Nothing special in 2014 Budget for Sabah

Monday, 28 October 2013

By Victor Ma

KOTA KINABALU: STAR Sabah Chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan has proposed that Sabah and Sarawak be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) scheduled in 2015, at least for 3-5 years.

“If the federal government can have implement 1-country 2-laws on the “Allah” issue which indirectly is a recognition of the 1-Country 2-System, the federal government can exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the GST scheduled in 2015, at least for 3-5 years,” he said.

Commenting on the National Budget 2014, he contended that abolishment of the Cabotage policy would have created a bigger impact for Sabah, as compared to the allocation of RM331 million to continue the price uniformity programme and subsidies including transport cost and RM30 million for an additional 60 Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) to help reduce the prices of daily necessities, said Jeffrey (photo).

He opined that the stop-gap measures adopted by the government are not going to resolve the systemic problems of higher costs of living and high unemployment.

“Both the federal and Sabah governments should undertake a study on the impact of the KRIM in Sabah as there are complaints that the KRIM has affected the small sundry and provision shops in Sabah and many will eventually close down,” he said.

He went on to note that the allocation of RM2 to RM3 billion development expenditure for Sabah and Sarawak is a slap on the status of the equal partnership of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.

He also described the allocation of RM500 million for upgrading of the Pan Borneo Highway as a disgrace and totally unacceptable.

“For the record, RM400 million was announced for the 33km Sibu-Kapit road. How far can RM500 million do for the Pan Borneo Highway?” he asked.

He reminded that recently, the State Public Works Department (PWD) Director had revealed that due to the backlog or disregard of Sabah’s requests, RM2 billion was needed for urgent road repairs in Sabah and another RM700 million was needed to urgently repair and upgrade 65 bridges in Sabah.

“Yet, there is not even a mention of any allocation in Budget 2014 and not the right way to treat Sabah which contributed 22 out of 25 MPs that help kept the Umno/BN federal government in power,” he lamented.

The Bingkor Assemblyman thus said the Budget 2014 is not just a huge disappointment to the people of Sabah, but also to such senior state leader like president of PBS Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan Pairin.

“The PM himself had whipped up expectations of Sabahans especially the PBS delegates at their general assembly by asking Sabahans to wait for Friday’s Budget announcement,” he said.

On national level, Dr Jeffrey said the PM cum Finance Minister missed the opportunity to put the national economy on a stronger footing by announcing a balanced Budget or a reduction of the operating expenditure of RM217.7 billion while only RM46.5 billion was for development or to put in place concrete plans to boost the disposable incomes of the lower income groups.

“All three proposals would have brought about a better international credit rating and at the same time increase the well-being of the people especially the lower income groups,” he contended.

He also opined that giving of handouts is not the right approach as it will only lead to bigger expectations and eventually greater dependency, especially among the rural poor.

“And there is no need to fish for votes for election season is over. The government should have invested more money in boosting up the income earning capacity of the poor.

“Giving of RM75 million in water tanks is no way to treat the rural voters who voted to retain the Umno/BN federal government. If not for the 25 BN MPs in Sarawak, the Budget would have been presented by a different Finance Minister.

“It would have been better to spend RM500 million on 20 water treatment plants of RM25 million each to provide clean piped water in rural Sarawak given the many big dams there,” he stressed.

He also warned that some of the items in the National budget 2014 like withdrawal of sugar subsidies will bring about an instantaneous price increase.

“What was more laughable was the reason bordering on absurdity that the subsidy cut was required to reduce diabetes in Malaysians. It is an undisputed medical fact that diabetes is not caused by sugar alone and a lower sugar intake alone does not reduce the diabetic rate,” he said.

Borneo Insider


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