S’wak DAP questions need for RM650m Taman Tugu

KUCHING: The Sarawak DAP has questioned the rationale behind the Federal Government slashing the budget for health and education but at the same time launching the RM650 million Taman Tugu project.

“It seems the Taman Tugu project in Kuala Lumpur is much more important than the people’s health and education,” said Abdul Aziz Isa, DAP Special Assistant to the Bandar Kuching MP, in a statement.

The people are suffering from the escalating costs of living and budget cuts, he said. “Yet, the Federal Government arbitrarily abuses public funds for the Taman Tugu project.”

The healthcare budget cut, for example, greatly affected the lower-income group and pensioners, he pointed out. “They cannot afford private healthcare.

“Many seniors and retirees now have to pay hefty sums for medication which used to be free.”

He recalled that ahead of the revised 2016 Budget on Jan 28, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the health ministry was expected to have its budget cut by between RM250 million and RM300 million.

Education and health should be the priorities of the Federal Government, stressed Abdul Aziz.

Unfortunately, he lamented, these two sectors had their budgets cut.

“Initially, it was education that was facing the budget cut. However, the health sector was also saddled with the same problem.”

He wondered whether the Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders could get their priorities right. The Federal Government should cut the billions given to the Prime Minister’s Department and use them for education and health, he argued.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) should also be able to provide funds for education and health, said Abdul Aziz.

“Since the GST was introduced on April 1 last year, the Federal Government has collected more than RM30 billion from the people.

“This is expected to increase this year.”

In short, there’s no reason why the Federal Government needs to cut allocations for health and education.

“Money collected from GST should be enough to cover healthcare services operation costs.”

He reeled off a list of things that could be done with the GST revenue — new hospitals and clinics in Sabah and Sarawak, health awareness programmes, efforts to tackle the Zika and salary increases for doctors and nurses.