KK airport in urgent need of federal aid, says economic council

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) welcomes the allocations for the state under Budget 2023 but stresses that more is needed to improve key facilities in the business landscape.

One such facility is the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), which council chairman Tan Sri David Chu said was the second busiest in the country.

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“As investment has poured into Sabah in 2021 and last year, the SEAC would like to request Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to urgently look into the poor condition of KKIA,” he said in a statement on Monday (Feb 27).

“A major renovation is long overdue. The council would like to urge the Prime Minister to allocate a sufficient sum for this urgent renovation,” he added.

Anwar, in tabling the revised Budget on Friday (Feb 24), said the RM6.5bil development funds to Sabah will also cover public infrastructure development projects involving roads, street lights and utilities.

The Premier also said construction of the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway and Sarawak-Sabah Link Road will be expedited involving an overall cost of RM20bil and ranging over 1,000km.

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Chu thanked Anwar for this, saying the allocation was greatly needed for the completion of the long-delayed Pan Borneo Highway.

Bilateral trade and investment with Indonesia will be enhanced with road connectivity established between Kalabakan here and Simangaris in Kalimantan, he added.

“Border townships will be developed and provide employment for the communities around those areas,” he said.

Towards this end, Chu hoped that the Federal Government would consider granting free economic or trade zone status for industrial parks such as the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park (Sogip), Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park and the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC).

He also urged the Prime Minister to consider giving targeted tax and other incentives for investments in Sabah to expedite economic development.

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“These measures will give a major boost to Sabah’s economy, (elevating it) from commodity to industrial, for Sabahans to maximise economic benefits from its resources,” he said.

He also welcomed the statement by Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek that the allocation for her ministry will be used to resolve the problems of dilapidated schools in Sabah.

“The SEAC would like to request the relevant federal ministers in charge of infrastructure, trade/investment promotion, tourism and health to make a similar commitment,” Chu said.

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