The Federal Government will increase the capability of security forces in protecting Sabah waters-Hajiji

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Sabah welcomed the 2020 Budget which saw Sabah remained as the State receiving the largest portion of allocation for development expenditure from the Federal Government at RM5.2 billion.

Its Chief, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor (photo), said the highest allocation for development given to Sabah proven that the Federal Government is very attentive to the needs of Sabah, especially in developing the State rural area.

He said security aspect has also become a focus of the Federal Government, particularly the effort to curb and deal with the intrusion of foreigners and also militants in the waters of Sabah.

“We thank the Federal Government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership for the huge allocation for Sabah.

“We are confident that the Government will continue to up the defence assets and equipment capability of the security forces that looks after the waters of Sabah,” he said.

He said this when commenting on the 2020 Budget tabled by Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, at the Dewan Rakyat, Friday.

During the tabling, the Government has announced a total expenditure of RM297 billion, an increase by RM19.5 billion compared to RM277.5 billion for 2019. Some RM241 billion for operating expenditure while RM56 billion for development expenditure.

Hajiji is optimistic that the Defence Ministry and Home Ministry which will receive the highest allocation in 2020 will strengthen the capabilities of the defence and military mobility.

“We welcomed the Federal Government move to increase the allocations for both ministries, so to ensure the country’s security and sovereignty always safeguarded.

“With the increase of allocations, the defence asset and equipment capabilities can be increased and improved, especially for protecting the Sabah waters from intrusion by foreigners and militants,” he said.

The Defence Ministry will receive an allocation of RM15.6 billion in 2020, compared to RM13.9 billion it received in 2019. While the Home Ministry will receive RM16.9 billion in 2020, compared to RM15.6 billion in 2019.

Hajiji said the people of Sabah also welcomed the Federal Government effort to improve the defence readiness for defending Sabah waters from any threat and intrusion.

“With advanced and modern military equipment including fast interceptor crafts, any threat by intruders and militants can be dealt with effectively,” he stressed.

He is confident that with this, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) will also be able to boost its operations and become more efficient within the East Coast Security Zone (Esszone) area.

Hajiji, who is also Sulaman State Assemblyman, said in overall the 2020 Budget is a competitive budget for re-generating and re-developing the economy of the country and the people.

He said a lot of the people living aspects and needs have been taken into account in this budget, including various forms of assistance and incentives to be given by the Government.

He said for example, the monthly allowance for the fishermen has been increased to RM250 from RM200, as well as various other incentives and schemes to assist the people of various groups, including the younger generation.

“Although there are needs and requests of the State which could not be fulfilled because the country is still burdened by debts inherited from the previous government, in the context of Sabah, we receive quite a huge allocation for 2020,” he added.

Hajiji is confident that the hundreds of million ringgit allocation provided for improving the infrastructure and amenities in Sabah, especially in the rural area, can help in boosting the growth and development in the State.

“We also welcomed the PH Government proposal to double the financial grants for Sabah and Sarawak as provided under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, with Sabah to receive a special annual grant of RM53.4 million.

“This shows the PH Government is all ears to the people in Sabah and Sarawak,” he stressed.

He welcomed the allocation of RM783 million in 2020 for restoring dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We are all aware that many schools in Sabah, particularly in the rural area, are in sorry condition and needed urgent repair. So with the allocation, students at the rural schools can enjoy a more comfortable and conducive studying environment,” he said.

Hajiji also welcomed the implementation of the 165-kilometre Trans Borneo Highway project linking Sabah and Sarawak with East Kalimantan, with the package worth RM600 million for constructing a 40km Kalabakan-Serudong road and a Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) complex as well as government quarters.

Hajiji said Sabah BERSATU also welcomed the RM1.6 billion allocation for building new hospitals and upgrading as well as expanding the existing hospitals throughout the country, including the Cardiology Centre of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) II in Kota Kinabalu.

He said the effort to upgrade the facility and fulfil the expertise requirement at the Cardiology Centre of QEH II is a need to reduce the burden of heart patients in Sabah who before this have been referred to the government hospitals in Kuala Lumpur, especially those involving heart surgery.

He said the needs of the younger generation has also been given attention by the Government in the 2020 Budget, with the increase in allocation for education programme and technical and vocational training (TVET) to RM5.9 billion in 2020 compared to RM5.7 billion in 2019.-pr/BNN