2020 Budget gives RM5.2 bil to Sabah but not all are smiling

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew and PBS president Maximus Ongkili have differing views on the 2020 Budget.

KOTA KINABALU: There was mixed reaction among Sabah leaders to the 2020 Budget provisions, which will see the state receiving RM5.2 billion in development allocations.

Speaking to reporters after the budget speech by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Kalabakan MP Ma’mun Sulaiman said he believes the allocations show the federal government’s seriousness in wanting to fulfil its Shared Prosperity vision.

“Kalabakan will benefit from this budget with the imminent opening of a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) centre near the border in the township with an estimated budget of RM600 million.

“This is what the people have been waiting for all this while,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew said the budget is inclusive and covers almost all the sectors but believes not enough is being given to the development of the tourism industry.

“Despite Lim declaring that the federal government will return 50% of the revenue derived from the tourism tax to each state, it is lopsided considering the amount of money invested in the industry by the state governments.

“We spend a lot to build, furnish, repair and maintain our tourism destinations,” the Tawau MP and state tourism minister said.

Otherwise, Liew said, the budget is people-oriented, with Sabah and Sarawak being included in a number of development plans.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Maximus Ongkili said the overall budget is insufficient to spur economic growth, especially in the rural sector where there has been little economic activity in the past two years.

The Kota Marudu MP said while the federal government has launched its Shared Prosperity model, the current budget is still working within the 11th Malaysia Plan framework and Vision 2020, which has been declared a failure by the federal government.

“There is nothing in this budget that aspires to implement shared prosperity. The rest of the budget is just to continue BN’s economic model and programmes.

“We have yet to see PH’s attempt to fulfil its election promises, including security for Sabah, autonomy rights for Sabah and Sarawak, education, employment and others,” he said.

Ongkili said the PH government has also not fully spent the RM1 billion allocation each to Sabah and Sarawak to repair dilapidated schools despite the funds being made available by the BN administration.

He also questioned the lack of funds for water and power infrastructure, saying Sabah and Sarawak have hardly received any new rural projects, be it electricity, water or rural roads, in the past two years.