Thursday, December 7

Lion’s share for rural development


State Budget 2015 to focus on narrowing development gap between urban and rural areas

Adenan (centre) arrives for the first day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday, accompanied by his officers.

KUCHING: Sarawak is setting aside more than 50 per cent of the development allocation in State Budget 2015 to develop the rural areas in order to narrow the development gap and to spur economic growth.

In tabling the RM6.36 billion budget yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem proposed that RM4.546 billion or 71 per cent be for development purposes and RM1.813 billion or 29 per cent for operating expenditure.

Of the proposed development allocation, RM1.648 billion would be for implementing industrial and commercial programmes and projects, while RM583 million would be for general administration to improve government facilities to enhance the public delivery system.

Adenan, also Finance Minister, said RM408 million would be allocated for public utilities, especially the expansion and upgrading of water supplies, including those in the rural areas. This provision included loans to water authorities.

He added that RM148 million had been set aside for agriculture and land development programmes, such as plantation development, drainage and irrigation, assistance to farmers, veterinaries, fisheries, agricultural research and
forestry, while RM397 million for transport and communications, particularly for roads, bridges and ports.

A total of RM1.362 billion would be allocated for social development and community services, including housing and resettlement schemes, sports, and recreational facilities.

“This expenditure is expected to generate a fairly high level of economic activities in order to sustain the level of economic growth in the state and ultimately narrow the overall development gap between the state and Peninsular Malaysia.

“More than 50 per cent of the development allocation of the proposed budget is for implementing programmes and projects in the rural areas to ensure long term balanced distribution of development throughout the state in line with the state’s continuous efforts to narrow the development gap between the urban and rural areas,” he said in his maiden budget speech.

Of the provision for development expenditure, RM4.038 billion would be funded by the state, while RM508 million would be financed by the federal government through loans and reimbursements.

The proposed State Budget 2015 is expected to generate a surplus of RM365 million, with an estimated total revenue of RM5.178 billion against a total proposed Ordinary Expenditure of RM4.813 billion.

“It is imperative that we continue with a balanced or surplus budget policy to ensure the financial position of our state remains strong and sustainable in the long run.

“We need to spend within our means to ensure that we will always have sufficient financial reserves to meet future challenges.”

Adenan also mentioned that the state had once again been given a clean bill of health for its 2013 Public Accounts by the Auditor-General of Malaysia. This is the 12th consecutive year the state received such recognition.

“Apart from our own effort at the state level, we would continue to seek for more funds from the federal government, particularly to finance infrastructure projects such as roads and utilities, especially in the rural areas.

“The capital expenditure required for implementing projects such as providing accessibility and upgrading of roads, supplies of electricity, treated water, and other public amenities in the rural areas are substantial.”