Ecological Fiscal Transfer to benefit several states

PETALING JAYA: The allocation of RM150mil for the Ecological Fiscal Transfer (EFT) under Budget 2023 is expected to benefit states like Sarawak, Sabah, Pahang, Terengganu, Perak, Kelantan and Kedah, says Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

The states have previously received funds under EFT, which serves as an incentive for state governments to keep and preserve their forests that could otherwise be used for logging.

“The distribution will take into account the gazetting of new protected areas, including tiger habitats and tree replanting in degraded areas” he said in a statement.

“At the same time, RM38mil has also been set aside for programmes to protect tigers, elephants and other wildlife species.”

During the tabling of Budget 2023 on Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced the increase of EFT to state governments from RM70mil previously to RM150mil.

A total of RM400mil, he said, has also been set aside for state governments based on green practices and environmental sustainability built into their economic and infrastructural development and well-being.

Nik Nazmi said the ministry received a total of RM6.53bil under Budget 2023, an increase of 8.4% compared to last year, including RM4.87bil for development expenditure and RM1.67bil in operating expenditure.

“A total of RM39.3mil has also been set aside under the allocation for operating expenditure for biodiversity protection and patrolling.

“With this programme, it will increase enforcement patrols in forest reserves as well as the country’s biodiversity wealth,” he said, adding that RM50mil would be used to enlarge the role of “Community Rangers” around the country with priority given to Orang Asli, veterans and the police.

Nik Nazmi said the allocation would give more space to the ministry to focus on efforts to develop environmental sustainability to encourage green practices, protect the country’s natural resources and have a more efficient and comprehensive disaster management.

“With the announcement that electricity tariffs will be maintained for all users, from domestic to the SMEs, the existing rates will continue for domestic users, SMEs and food industry from Jan 1 to June 30 this year.

“Overall, the government has given a commitment of RM10.76bil for electricity subsidies,” he said.

WWF Malaysia said more allocations should be given to the ministry, which is just as important as the Education and Health ministries.

“Budget 2023 is an inspiring budget that is committed to both nature conservation and long-term financial sustainability.

“This shows our government acknowledges that nature is essential for human existence and well-being, and economic growth cannot continue indefinitely without the support of nature. This puts them ahead of many governments around the world,” it said.

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