Datuk Christina Liew
KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew has expressed disappointment over the reduction in the development allocation for Sabah from RM5.2 billion for 2020 to RM5.1 billion under the 2021 Federal Budget.
The Member of Parliament for Tawau said Sabahans, who were expecting a bigger share of the Budget for next year, have been let down by the Federal Government.
She said the State Government of Sabah needs more financial allocations across the board in terms of infrastructure development, education, medical services and most of all tourism, a key industry particularly hard-hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The development allocation smacks of unfairness and inequality in the apportionment of funds. Our disproportionate share is a total disappointment, given that Sabah deserves a bigger development budget as I said a day earlier.
“Instead of augmenting the development expenditure for Sabah to remove the disparities in respect of infrastructure and healthcare facilities,
the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government has slashed the allocation by RM0.1 billion.
“The RM5.1 billion development budget is grossly inadequate. Apparently, the Government has failed to take cognizance of Sabah’s genuine need for an increased allocation to further develop its infrastructure, health and education sectors,” Liew said in a statement, Saturday.
The Tawau MP, who is also Api Api Assemblywoman, expressed concern too over the allocation of only RM725 million for the infrastructure upgrade of 50 dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak.
“It will be interesting to know how much Sabah will actually receive for the purpose. In fact, Sabah alone has more than 100 dilapidated schools, yet to be rehabilitated,” she pointed out.
The former State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment said it was equally distressing to note that there is hardly enough in the Budget to help rejuvenate the flagging tourism industry.
“The annual Budget has failed to meet the critical needs of major stakeholders, particularly tourism enterprises. There are no or hardly any incentive packages for the hotel operators, among others. While there is a special grant for traders, taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers and tour guides in Sabah, the allocation of RM50 million for the maintenance and restoration of tourism facilities nationwide is glaringly insufficient,” Liew lamented.
She, meanwhile, supported the call by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) to the government to consider extending the loan moratorium up to June 2021.
What is also incredible, Liew contended, is the unwarranted cuts for the medical and public health budget for the country.
“Does it make sense? Priority should be given to the people’s well-being. While our focus is rightly on tackling COVID-19 related cases, we must not forget the ongoing needs of people who are facing equally grave medical conditions such as cancer and kidney disease.
“Slashing resources that deal with managing other chronic or serious medical conditions amounts to assuming that such needs are not on par with others.
“We must be very careful to walk that balance between meeting urgent COVID-19 related needs without sacrificing resources needed for other diseases,” she said.
The 2021 Budget shows a 58.49 percent cut for radiotherapy and oncology services from RM328.7 million in 2020 to RM136.4 million in 2021. Similarly, there is a 77.61 percent cut for nephrology from RM252,118,400 in 2020 to RM56,444,800 in 2021. -end