IT has been a challenging but fruitful year for Sabah. Everything is moving in our favour. We have achieved key milestones, and looking forward, things are in place for the state to prosper. These do not mean the state administration will rest on its laurels — we need to keep the pace going.
A strong indicator for Sabah lies in the 2018 Budget I presented recently. The RM4.104 billion budget comes with a surplus of RM64.89 million. This is our fourth consecutive surplus budget.
This is also the 16th consecutive year the state’s consolidated revenue account recorded a surplus. This shows the state government has been implementing effective and efficient financial management all these years since 2001.
Sabah’s 2018 Budget is for the people just as its theme suggests, “Strengthening the Economy, Prospering the People”, on top of the strong support from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
This year, the state also received the highest-ever petroleum royalty at RM1.246 billion following the increase in prices and production of crude oil and natural gas. The projection for next year is an increase to RM1.318 billion, almost a third of the state revenue, so things are looking bright.
The state also proposed an allocation of RM1.09 billion in development expenditure, RM1.339 billion to enhance basic infrastructure and RM509 million to develop the agriculture sector.
On industry and manufacturing, the state is allocating RM134 million to accelerate development of the manufacturing sector and efforts to promote trade-investment opportunities in Sabah.
These numbers would add up to greater benefits in the long run, with people having better roads, farmers increasing yields and youth securing jobs.
The state would also provide RM228 million to support the sustainability of tourism programmes to continue developing economic spin-offs in Sabah.
This is a sector that we need to give more attention to, especially after recording an unprecedented RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts last year. That, along with 3.43 million arrivals last year. Theseshow that people like coming to Sabah. I have been told by friends that they need to book early if they want to visit Sabah during the holidays.
But, the allocation will likely see the creation of more new tourist attractions because we have many unexplored and beautiful places. There is a need for the state to tap into this flourishing market that looks set to grow, and this is why the government embarked on developing the Sabah International Convention Centre and Tanjung Aru Eco Development projects. These projects will become tourism destinations on their own.
On a positive note, I see many leaders, districts and agencies introducing or further promoting the places we have. Like other government programmes, these need commitment from stakeholders, policymakers, community leaders and the people too.
Take, for instance, improving the people’s livelihood. This year, 28,642 people were lifted out of poverty through government programmes, with the help of state and federal agencies and the private sector.
I would like to highlight the 100 per cent increase in special allocations to benefit women, single mothers, senior citizens, the disabled, youth and rural communities. This allocation was increased from RM53 million to RM115 million next year.
Fundamentally, state development and people’s prosperity are our top priority.There should not be accusations that this budget is just goodies for the people.
Barisan Nasional is consistent in its goals and struggles. Although leaders come and go, BN’s policy and agenda remain unchanged. This is the spirit and commitment of BN: to always give shelter and light, for the wellbeing of the people and prosperity of our beloved homeland.
I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it, and happy holidays to everyone.
Tan Sri Musa Aman is Sabah chief minister