Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (left) at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Pix by Khairull Azry Bidin

KOTA KINABALU: The Rural and Regional Development Ministry will put more focus on short and medium-term development projects this year.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the short term projects are essential in Sabah as some areas are in dire need of repair works.

“The short term projects include fixing village roads, building low-cost housing projects, and installation of street lights in villages, among others.

“These projects will start in February and are set to be completed by March 1 at the latest,” he said after chairing the first Rural Executive Councillors and Minister coordination meeting (Mexclub) here for this year.

As for medium-term projects, they will take at least six months to complete.

Ismail added that Sabah and Sarawak will receive 52.5 per cent of development allocations as tabled in the 2018 Budget, while the rest is shared among the other states in peninsular Malaysia.

This year, Sabah received an allocation of RM924 million for 102 projects compared to RM1.018 billion for 86 projects last year.

He said other focuses include equipping the local community with skills that will enable them to earn an income of at least RM1,500 a month.

“Each year during the Budget tabling, Sabah and Sarawak will usually get more allocations.

“This means that the (Federal) government prioritises the development of both states.”

Meanwhile, he said investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on previous development projects will not affect the ministry.

Last year, about 350 projects under the ministry, carried out between 2010 and 2016, were investigated by MACC over allegations of embezzlement of RM1.5 billion in federal funds meant for rural development projects in the state.

Earlier, he said the meeting discussed the 2018 Budget, proposals on Community Development Department (Kemas) kindergartens' transit programme, Rumah Bina Negara as well as recommendations on expediting rural projects.

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