A RANDOM SURVEY found that affordable housing for urban poor, better public transport, higher minimum wage, more training courses for women, helping hand for local entertainers, lower cost of living and doing business and elimination of cabotage policy or price disparity are among the items on the wish list of people for the 2013 National Budget.
Lawrence Dexter, a 27-year old civil servant, said he hopes the 2013 Budget will focus on the infrastructure development in Sabah, especially in the urban centres.
He said there is a need to vastly improve the public transport system and municipal services in Kota Kinabalu and the major towns to enhance the quality of life, public safety and cleanliness.
Sulaiman Jaafar, 36, a private sector employee, said the Budget should focus on developing infrastructure in rural areas, especially the road system.
He said some of the roads in rural and interior areas in Sabah are in very poor condition.
“If the government wants to achieve developed country status, they should improve and upgrade the existing infrastructures,” he said.
“There is also a pressing need for the government to seriously address infrastructure problems faced by many schools in both urban and rural areas.”
Professor Dr Rosnah Ismail hopes the Budget will be distributed fairly among the rich and the poor.
“The new budget has to address the needs of the burgeoning population of poor people living in cities. It also needs to improve significantly the lives of slum dwellers and address the housing needs of the urban poor,” she said.
Rosnah also hopes to see improvement in access to basic social and health services, including reproductive health care for poor people in urban slums.
“This is also crucial to break the poverty cycle,” she said.
Rosnah also stressed on the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility, especially on matters regarding climate change.
She said it is imperative to make corporate behaviour more responsible when it comes to ethics, working conditions and on environmental sustainability.
Boutique operator Nur Jawaheer Ismail, who is well known as Wawa, said Najib should create a special fund for young entrepreneurs in Sabah to encourage more youths to consider entrepreneurship as their career.
“As many investors have said Sabah is rich in resources and it is up to us to explore what to do. With the increasing number of unemployed graduates, I am confident entrepreneurship is another way out.
“Since entrepreneurship is not easy to start without capital, I think the Budget should make the younger generation of Sabah part of the nation’s development through entrepreneurship,” she said.
Wawa, who is also a model, urged the government to set up a special budget for the entertainment industry by giving funds to improve the entertainers’ skills towards contributing to the country.
She said the entertainment industry is one of major revenue earners at the international level, and Malaysia should look forward to set up not only academy for singing or acting but also modeling and other stage performances to ensure the entertainment industry develops in a balanced way.
Jaunah Kamin said that as the wife of a rubber tapper living in the rural area, giving cash is not the way to help them to improve living standards but offering more women-related courses will be most welcome to enable them to start a small business from home.
“I think the government should give more allocation to the relevant ministry, and give housewives like me the opportunity to learn how to sew, bake and cook. I don’t have the opportunity to join the classes yet because they have always done them in town areas daily.
“I want the courses to be more flexible where the trainers will come to our village and teach us once or twice a week. This kind of courses were done many years ago when my mother was still young and I was still a young girl,” she said.
Jaunah said most of courses in the state are limited to certain numbers of people and to only one course at one time.
She said if the allocation is bigger than before, more women will benefit from the courses and they will be able to explore entrepreneurship in earnest.
Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen felt that the Budget 2013 should address the cost of living and cost of doing business in Sabah.
Wong said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be lowered in Sabah to compensate for the higher prices of goods here.
He called on the government to look into the cost of living and the price difference of goods to achieve one country one price, either in the form of subsidy or policies to reduce the cost divide between East and West Malaysia.
Wong said the GST should also be different in East and West Malaysia, as we pay more for goods than our Peninsular counterparts.
“Whatever budget for the people should take into consideration the cost of living, cost of doing business, and cost and goods in Sabah,” he said when contacted yesterday to share his views on the National Budget 2013.
Wong also said that the government should consider assisting the business sector in Sabah in the form of incentives or subsidies to ease the cost of shipping and logistics issues, and in order for the local industries to survive and flourish.
“If the shipping industry can be exempted from tax for so long, Sabah industries should be given some kind of incentives.”
He said the high logistics costs hindered local manufacturers from exporting their products.
“If Sabah cannot do proper export, our market will only be restricted locally, and there will be no progress,” he said.
Wong also pointed out that the government should do away policies that do not benefit the majority.
If the government wishes to maintain the current policies, they should look into reducing or rectifying the imbalances, he said.
Jali Maidin from Papar said if the government is sincere about developing Sabah, the federal government should set up a special fund to abolish the cabotage policy or to subsidise trans-shipment of goods to Sabah in order to standardise the prices of consumer goods in the state with that in Peninsular Malaysia.
Apart from giving Sabah’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) special fund with hassle free conditions, the federal government must consider the need to do away with the difference in the prices of goods which has been the major issue in Sabah.
“I don’t think the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia is relevant in Sabah because we don’t have the option to choose the best products, but we have to buy 1Malaysia products instead.
“That is not what we want. We want all local and international goods are of the same prices nationwide.”
Junainah Mamat, a sales assistant, said since Malaysia is in the third year of its transformation journey towards a developed and high-income nation, the government should come up with a special formula to get employers to pay higher salary to their workers, higher than the proposed minimum wage of RM800.
She said working in a departmental store never promises her a bright future because of the low salary even with the announcement of the minimum wage recently.
“The prices of goods have been increased tremendously, but our salary is still the same. With the RM800 monthly minimum wage set for Sabah, I think sales assistants like me will always be renting a room because I cannot afford buying even a low-cost house.
“Everything is expensive in Sabah except our salaries. So I urge the government to invest in a special formula to give the opportunity to Sabahans to enjoy the benefits like our friends n the Peninsular Malaysia,” she said.
A businesswoman, Nuraisyah Omar, said the government needs to help the hardcore poor by giving them land, and training them with skills in agriculture and marketing.
She said priority should be given to the welfare of natives in resolving land issues.