New Halatuju to propel Sabah’s socio-economic development

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

A NEWLY-DRAFTED strategic master plan for Sabah’s socioeconomic development, which will be announced soon by Chief Minister (CM) Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, is necessary even though the state is still in the middle of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy CM Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (picture) said the new Sabah’s Halatuju would be able to propel and further boost the state’s socio-economic development.

“We understand the people’s suffering and the government is doing its best to assist everybody from all walks of life. However, we cannot neglect our economy because once this is all over, we have to rebuild our lives and our economy,” he said in response to media questions on the government’s economic direction.

He said the state’s economy needs to be revived as soon as possible, and therefore, the Halatuju would concentrate on the government’s plan to stimulate the economy.

“More importantly, it is to bring Sabah into IR4.0 with the introduction of 5G that is already at our doors,” he said.

Jeffrey, who is also Sabah agriculture and fisheries minister, said the new strategic plan will be financed via sales tax from petroleum, which is expected to amount to at least RM800 million annually, and foreign investments.

“This means a deficit budget is unavoidable. We need to move and stimulate the economy, develop the state and prosper the people. Thus, an expansionary budget is necessary,” he said.

He said Sabah will continue to pursue its financial rights under the Federal Constitution Tenth Schedule Article 112C, which stipulates that it is entitled to 40% net revenue from revenues derived by the federal government from the state.

Jeffrey said Sabah must also be ready to take advantage of Indonesia’s new capital in the making, Kalimantan, and work together with its neighbours to compete nationally and regionally.

He said his ministry will encourage more private investments in agriculture and fisheries in the state.

“My ministry will be introducing a rural micro-business system to organise and bring the rural economy into the mainstream economy,” he said, adding that this will create a more productive, efficient and organised rural community which will help improve their income.

“This means part of our challenge is to develop the rural economy and industrialise it. Another plan is to reactivate the Sabah Padi Board with new strategies to improve food sufficiency and reduce dependency on import,” he said.

The previous Halatuju for Sabah was drafted in 2003 under the state administration led by former CM Tan Sri Musa Aman.

The ambitious new Halatuju would take into consideration the unprecedented growth in technology and would aggressively develop infrastructure to digitalise Sabah.

Jeffrey said the development of infrastructure would stimulate not only the conventional market in Sabah, but also other economies, including the sharing economy, online trading, social media and online retailers.