Sabah govt announces RM7.3mil one-off aid for all 73 state constituencies

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has announced a RM7.3mil allocation for one-off Sentuhan Kasih aid to be channelled to all 73 constituencies in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic) said in his winding-up speech during the state assembly sitting on Thursday (Sept 23) that the allocation is based on the spirit of the Malaysian Family and a commitment in helping the people.

"This is in addition to the various assistance rendered by the state and federal governments.

"I hope it will help all elected representatives, and local leaders channel assistance to (those) in need," he said.

On a separate matter, Hajiji said a state-level technical committee chaired by Sabah's Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has been set up to provide recommendations on the state's interests in oil and gas.

These recommendations will be brought forward to Petronas and the Federal Government, he added.

"The Commercial Solution Agreement (CSA) negotiations between Sabah and Petronas will be handled by the Finance Ministry under a joint committee co-chaired by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee, representing the Federal Government.

"I have conducted early discussions with Tengku Zafrul on this matter, and besides that, Masidi and I have had preliminary negotiations with the Petronas chairman, president and chief executive officer on Aug 24.

"The response from Petronas has been very positive. We will ensure that follow-ups will be made through the technical committee," he said.

According to Hajiji, the CSA's objectives include: giving more power to Sabah to decide on oil and gas development in the state; Sabah having the right to a bigger portion from oil and gas revenue in the state; and Sabah having better opportunities through government-linked companies (GLCs) to participate and invest in upstream and downstream activities.

However, Senallang assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal suggested that a deadline must be established to ensure the agreement will not be a mere promise.

"We have been hearing about technical committees being set up since Datuk Seri Najib Razak's time.

"We have to see the outcome, that is what the people want, so set a specific deadline," he urged.

On a separate matter, Deputy Chief Minister and state Public Works Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said only one package of the Pan Borneo Highway project had been approved this year.

The remaining 19 packages are still awaiting allocation from the Federal Government, he added.

He said despite an earlier state government's mistake in not securing Sukuk financing before terminating the project delivery partner Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd, it was time to move forward and make the mega project a reality.

"I inherited all these (Pan Borneo) issues when I took up this ministerial portfolio, but there is no use pointing fingers.

"We don't want to wait 45 years for all three phases to be completed, so that is why we have suggested PFIs (private finance initiatives) that will be handled by the federal side and keep the highway toll-free,'' he said.

At the same time, the Sabah Public Works Department will ensure that the drainage system along the highway route is maintained and will not contribute to flooding issues, he added.

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