Social, economic planning in focus at Sabah state assembly

KOTA KINABALU: Questions related to social and economic planning, apart from a detailed tabling of the state’s expenses for the various aid packages and initiatives to fight Covid-19 were heard at the state assembly meeting here on Wednesday (Sept 22).

During the question and answer session, Chief Minister Daruk Seri Hajiji Noor explained that with the pandemic not showing signs of ending anytime soon, the government had no choice but to operate with both health and the economy in mind.

With this, he said the state and Federal governments had allocated funds to help people and industries affected by the pandemic, among which included the launch of the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) initiative which focuses on three main thrusts.

The three main thrusts are agriculture, industry and tourism; human capital and the well-being of the people; and green infrastructure and sustainability networks.

"The three main SMJ thrusts will be driven by five enablers - fiscal sustainability, financial facilities, effective and efficient delivery, excellence in integrity and governance, and digital government," Hajiji said.

For short term measures, he said assistance programmes involving more than RM1.25bil had been given out to the people while RM256.9mil were allocated by the Federal government to the health department in Sabah.

He said there were also many other assistance packages that had been announced by the Federal government since the start of the pandemic last year.

To a question from Usukan assemblyman Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak on whether the government would consider asking for direct funding from the Federal government for faster and easier distribution of aid, Hajiji agreed that it would be a good move.

"I agree that this would be a wise move for us in Sabah so yes, we will forward our suggestions and thoughts to the Federal government on this matter soon," he said.

He hoped that the points of the meeting would be taken into consideration by the Federal government, for the benefit of all.

Later, Moyog assemblyman Datuk Darell Leiking asked if the state agreed to reject the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA 2012), which inhibits Sabah’s control over its continental shelf.

He said these were among the factors to consider when trying to restart the economy amid the pandemic.

In response, Hajiji said he would take note of the matter and make sure it was looked into thoroughly, adding that whatever was for Sabah’s rights, they would fight for it.

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