KOTA KINABALU: The World Bank has accurately identified poverty and regional disparity issues as the main critical concerns of Sabah.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Nasrun Mansur in disclosing this, believed the World Bank team had managed to gather all the relevant information needed to ensure the State’s development needs and challenges have also been taken into account in their report.
“We are indeed very fortunate to capitalize on the World Bank’s vast experience in addressing these issues to advise us on the most holistic approach to address these challenges.
“The Malaysian government to a certain extent has made much progress in its efforts to reduce poverty and narrow the regional disparity within the state of Sabah. Hardcore poverty in the state has reduced from 6.5 per cent in 2004 to 3.7 per cent in 2007 and it is targeted to be eliminated by end of this year,” said Nasrun at the launching of The Third Edition of Malaysia Economic Monitor Report – “Inclusive Growth” at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Hotel yesterday.
According to Nasrun, health facilities and services have also increased with an additional 180 rural clinics established and increase in the number of hospital beds to 3,834.
Doctor-population ratio has also registered significant reduction from the ration of one doctor to 2,935 persons in 2006 to one doctor serving 2,464 persons last year.
He added the number of schools, including technical schools, had also increased to 1,277 this year.
“However, if we compare regionally with other states in Peninsular Malaysia, there are still much to be desired in terms of both hard and soft infrastructure including health, education and social facilities and services and human resource development.
“Deep pockets of poverty exist in certain socio-economic groups as well as in certain areas in the State, where the poor have least access to services and employment opportunities,” he added.
Through the National Government Program and the National Economic Transformation Program revealed recently, Nasrun said there had been much emphasis in rural development and human resource development as reflected in the National Key Result Areas.
He added a large sum of the development allocation would be channeled to the State to help uplift the living standards of the poor in particular through improving the supply of water and electricity, rural roads and so on.
“We are very fortunate as we have the World Bank team to brief, guide and advise us on the prevailing challenges and new challenges that are emerging as our nation prepares to progress into the league of high income nations.
“The World Bank Malaysia Economic Monitor Report with the theme of ‘Inclusive Growth’ will enlighten on how ‘inclusive strategies’ are necessary to confront these new realities,” he said.