Zahid promises focus on Sabah’s poorest districts

KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government will give special focus to three of the poorest Sabah districts to help these areas climb out of hardcore poverty, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said Pitas and Kota Marudu, two of the state’s northernmost districts, as well as Tongod in central Sabah, would be given attention for infrastructure development and other utilities.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Rural and Regional Development Minister, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had urged Putrajaya to assist these districts.

“This is a new game changer by the state government, and we at the Rural and Regional Ministry will surely implement (the projects),” he said after a project coordination meeting between the ministry and the Sabah government here yesterday.

Discussions would be held with the Economy and Finance Ministries for this purpose, he said.

“This is to recognise the efforts of these three districts to move out of the extreme poverty bracket,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid said plans were also afoot to create padi estates in Sabah so that the state would be able to produce its own supply for domestic or local consumption.

This, he added, was still at the proposal stage, with the state government still to decide on the location and timing of the undertaking.

Ahmad Zahid said the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) had the capability to implement such estates as the one in Seberang Perak.

Among the benefits of the collaboration with Felcra are that the villagers will be involved as shareholders with dividends paid to them and housing provided to settlers.

Ahmad Zahid said he had discussed the plan with the state government, adding that the Chief Minister would still need to bring the matter to the state Cabinet for their agreement.

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