Sabah needs special council to speed up economic recovery, says think tank

The Sabah government has been told to focus on key areas to revive the economy and protect the people’s economic well-being.

KOTA KINABALU: An independent think tank has proposed that the new Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government set up a special body to help speed up economic recovery in the state following the devastating impact of Covid-19.

The Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (Seeds) said the state government should consider establishing the Sabah Economic Action and Recovery Council (SEARC) immediately.

SEEDS chairman Arnold Puyok said in a statement today that the focus of this council should be to advise the government on ways to revive the economy and sustain its momentum.

“The council must come up with the key performance indicators (KPIs) to be achieved within a stipulated period,” he said.

“The GRS-led government needs to act fast by focusing on key priority areas to revive the economy and protect the people’s economic well-being.

“The people expect the state government to come up with robust short- and long-term economic plans to develop Sabah.”

Puyok said the council should look at key questions, among others, concerning the best economic approach to be adopted and the sectors to be developed to generate revenue for the state.

“Another question is, what could be done to ensure that Sabah’s economy is led by the private sector and the government’s role is minimised as much as possible?”

He said issues on unemployment in Sabah must also be effectively addressed by the council, which should involve representatives from the private and public sectors, particularly from the tourism and agricultural industries as well as SMEs.

“The next step is to institutionalise a good governance policy to gain the trust of the people, investors and business community,” he said.

“There should be an ‘interface’ to ensure private-sector independence. The interface will demarcate the role of the business sector as the driver of the state’s economy and the government as the facilitator.”

Puyok also suggested that a body like the special task force to facilitate business, or Pemudah, be created in Sabah so that business could be done with ease, cutting red tape and complicated administrative procedures.

“There must be political will in restructuring the economy, starting from the top leadership,” he said.