‘Budget ignores need to improve Sabah infrastructure’

Shafie ApdalKUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2017 holds nothing new for Sabah, says Shafie Apdal.

The former rural and regional development minister and Umno vice-president noted that the Budget, unveiled in Parliament today by Prime Minister Najib Razak, had once again failed to focus on developing Sabah’s infrastructure.

“There’s nothing new. (In the budget), they have a new train line from Klang Valley to Pahang, to places like Kelantan. Yet Sabah is not receiving the same for its infrastructure.

“We’re not even talking about trains here, we’re talking about roads,” Shafie told reporters while leaving Parliament today.

Shafie commented that the budget seemed exceedingly lavish, pointing to its projected revenue of RM219.7 billion and allocated expenditure of RM260.8 billion.

“Knowing that the world economy is not so healthy, and knowing that revenue is not so good too … yet the government is spending lavishly.

“I don’t know where it comes from. Whether it’s borrowing… I’ll have to look into it,” Shafie said.

Shafie dodged questions from reporters on why he did not join the Opposition walkout, which happened after Najib challenged the dissenting MPs in the hall to do so.

“Saya akan bahaskan nanti (I will talk about that in Parliament later),” he said repeatedly in between chuckles.

Sabah DAP Chairman and Sandakan MP Stephen Wong Tien Fatt said the party was disappointed over the reduction in allocation for electricity projects in Sabah’s rural areas.

He said allocation for electricity supply in rural areas in Sabah is going to be cut from RM398 million in 2015 to RM250 million in 2016.

He was also unhappy that there was no allocation for the Hospital Duchess of Kent, Sandakan, even though Najib had announced that the government will allocate RM2.5 billion to upgrade hospitals and medical facilities.

He said the government intends to build and upgrade hospitals in Perlis, Kuching, Mukah, Jempol, Muar and Johor Bahru, but Sabah’s hospitals received nothing in the budget.

He also noticed that the allocation for the construction of the RM27 billion Pan Borneo Highway had increased from RM800 million to RM1.5 billion for a year, for both Sabah and Sarawak.

He said at this rate it will take about 18 years to complete this project. “This is too long and too inefficient.”