KOTA KINABALU: Although the doubling of the annual federal special grant for Sabah to RM53.5mil is a welcome move, Budget 2020 has failed to address the call for the return of 40% of the federal revenue taken from the state, said State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah Datuk Christina Liew (pic).
Saying that the RM5.2bil in development fund allocated to Sabah on Friday was also not enough, Liew said Sabah MPs should seek a mid-term review of the Budget.
Liew said it was good news that for the first time since 1969, the annual Federal Special Grant of RM26.7mil for Sabah and RM16mil for Sarawak as provided for under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was being reviewed.
“The Pakatan Harapan government has proposed to double the rate to RM53.5mil for Sabah and RM32mil for Sarawak beginning next year.
“On top of that, over the next five years, the government will further double the grant to RM106.8mil for Sabah and RM64mil for Sarawak, ” she said.
During the tabling of Budget 2020 on Friday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said the Special Grant for Sabah and Sarawak under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution constituted a part of the Federal Grant.
However, the Sabah PKR chairman asked why Lim had conveniently evaded the phrase “40% Special Grant” (pertaining to the revenue derived from Sabah) when he touched on the subject of the Special Grant, which was supposed to be reviewed every five years since 1969.
“Sabah’s Special Grant is provided for in Part IV of the Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, ” said Liew.
The two east Malaysian states, she noted, had been retained as recipients of the highest development budget with an allocation of RM5.2bil for Sabah and RM4.4bil for Sarawak.
“We appreciate the government’s attention on Sabah and Sarawak, ” she said, contending however that the development fund of RM5.2bil was grossly insufficient for the development of Sabah’s rural poor areas, which were lagging far behind.
“The RM300mil allocation for the repair of dilapidated schools is
“It is imperative that Sabah MPs seek a mid-term review of the Budget to meet any shortfall.
“As the MP for Tawau, I will continue to speak up without fear or favour on Sabah’s needs in general and Tawau’s needs in particular, ” she said.
On Lim’s statement that the Federal Government would continue to return 50% of the tourism tax collection to each state in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020, Liew said this would not be enough for the maintenance or repair of existing tourism infrastructure, let alone development of new tourism products.
“Specifically, I will provide input on these aspects to justify why Sabah needs a bigger chunk of federal funding when I debate on the Budget next week, ” she added.