Lack of funds hampering rural development efforts, says Sabah minister

Sabah Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick (5th right) at the ministry’s Kaamatan/Hari Raya open house in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s rural development ministry is hoping for additional funds from the state government, saying a lack of money is hampering the continuation of its programmes.

Speaking to reporters after attending the ministry’s Kaamatan and Hari Raya open house here, its minister Ewon Benedick said: “We need billions of ringgit for our rural development programmes, but we know we must be practical and consider our state’s financial strength.

“We are only asking for several million ringgit and we have already submitted this need to the Sabah economic planning unit (EPU).

“At the moment, we are still preparing the details. Soon, the state finance ministry will review the budget for all ministries. In the end, it all depends on that ministry,” he said.

The state finance ministry is headed by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.

Benedick’s ministry hopes to carry out new projects under the PPRT (development programme for the very poor), a rural alternative water supply programme, a rural alternative power supply programme and rural tourism.

Sabah Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick (5th right) at the ministry’s Kaamatan/Hari Raya open house in Kota Kinabalu today.

He said the ministry is also actively continuing previous programmes such as the Mini Estet Sejahtera, Program Kampung Sejahtera, skills courses and rural entrepreneurship development.

“All these we have forwarded to the state EPU and the ministry’s permanent secretary will bring the matter to the budget hearing which will be held by the finance ministry soon,” he said.

He said the ministry is currently focusing on the five poorest districts of Pitas, Kudat, Kota Marudu, Tongod and Matunggong.