Budget 2021: Lower development allocations for Sabah disappointing but understandable, says Jeffrey Kitingan

KOTA KINABALU: A lower allocation of RM5.1bil for Sabah’s development under Budget 2021 is disappointing for the state, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (pic) said.

The Sabah Deputy Chief Minister said the allocation was lower than last year’s budget of RM5.2bil given for 2020 and gave the impression the federal government was treating Sabah the way previous federal governments had always done.

Jeffrey said he hoped the federal government would allocate more in next year’s federal budget for Sabah’s infrastructure development once the battle with Covid-19 was over.

“Increasing the infrastructure development fund for Sabah is crucial as the state is desperate to keep up with its neighbours.

“The federal government had a policy of ‘shared prosperity’ and Sabah, being an equal partner in the federation, must also share the benefit of this policy,” said the Sabah STAR president, who is a member of the Perikatan Nasional government.

Nevertheless, Jeffrey said the state government could understand the overall economic downturn faced not only in Malaysia but also in many other countries globally.

He said the government was also forced to set aside RM17bil to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Judging by the distribution of the development fund, we could observe that Sabah will benefit from not only the RM5.1bil specified for Sabah.

“The total development expenditure is RM69bil and they include various projects, including the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, agriculture development, economic corridors, and several other incentives meant to stimulate the economy.

“Under the budget, the federal government also announced a special RM1,000 grant for traders, taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers, and tour guides in Sabah,” Jeffrey, who is Keningau MP, said.

Jeffrey, who is Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, said that his ministry would work closely with the federal Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry to tap into commodities and agricultural funds.

He said this would ensure Sabahans would benefit from the vast agricultural funds set at RM4.8 bil.

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