KOTA KINABALU: The national Budget 2023 reflects the federal Unity Government’s commitment to remedy the country’s financial standing and takes care of the people’s needs across the board, said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
In welcoming the budget, Hajiji said in a statement today that the RM6.5 billion allocation for Sabah was about 3.1 per cent more than the amount allocated in Budget 2023 tabled by the previous government.
“In addition, another RM2.5 billion is allocated for Sabah and Sarawak to implement public amenity projects such as roads, street lights, electricity and water supply.
“We also welcome the federal government’s commitment to expedite the more than 1,000 kilometres Pan Borneo Sabah-Sabah Sarawak Road Link project by allocating RM20 billion,” he said after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had tabled a RM388.1 billion budget for 2023 on Friday.
The previous government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had tabled Budget 2023 totalling RM372.3 billion in October last year but Parliament was dissolved for the 15th general election before it could be debated and passed.
Hajiji also welcomed the prime minister’s commitment on a RM1billion allocation for the construction of a Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) facility at the Sabah-Sarawak border town in Kalabakan in anticipation of the shifting of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan.
“Nonetheless, Sabah will also continue to press for the construction of a similar facility at Bantul in Pensiangan,” he said, expressing gladness on the federal government’s emphasis on enhancement of security with an additional 42 security posts at the border, including in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) area.
He also welcomed Anwar’s assertion on the federal government’s commitment to delegate the approval of federal projects below RM50 million to technical departments in Sabah and Sarawak.
Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick, in a separate statement, said as a federal minister from Sabah, he truly appreciated Anwar’s commitment to increase special grants and other allocations for the state.
“I also value the prime minister’s commitment to increase mobile clinics, mobile banks and mobile courts in Sabah. Previously, I had asked the Cabinet to provide a special allocation for funding the Mobile Court programme in Sabah,” he said.
The Penampang MP hoped the Budget 2023 allocations given to his Cabinet colleagues would help to boost development in the Land Below the Wind.
Meanwhile, several Sabahans who were interviewed hoped a big portion of the allocations would be used to maintain, upgrade and build roads, clinics and schools in the state.
Mazlina Hajar Kassem, 46, a primary school teacher in Tuaran, hoped the allocations would solve the longstanding problem of dilapidated schools and clinics in Sabah.
“The rural areas in Sabah are most affected by this issue and the RM1.2 billion for repairing 380 dilapidated schools and 400 rundown clinics should be extended quickly so that our children and grandchildren would not have to inherit this problem,” she said.
Grabfood delivery rider Muhammad Hishamsul Bujang, 28, said the RM2.7 billion for upgrading federal roads and RM1.5 billion for upgrading and building rural links would have a big impact on road users like him.
“Motorcyclists like us are the most exposed to risk of accidents due to damaged roads. We hope this allocation can resolve this problem, which has been well publicised on social media,” said the Likas resident.