Tuesday, April 13

Budget: Rural folk expect more


(Left to right) Datuk Mutang Tagal, Temenggong Elizabeth Deng, Mujan Lah, Leonard Luhat Laing, John Trawe.

MIRI: While the allocation of RM4.4 billion for development expenditure in the newly tabled federal government’s Budget 2020 to Sarawak is commendable, rural folk expect more as size-wise the state needs more fund to speed up infrastructure projects.

A Lun Bawang from Ba Kelalan, Datuk Mutang Tagal said not only the main trunk roads, but all the spur roads linking towns and divisions in Sarawak need to be expedited.

“The allocation of RM783 million for dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak can hopefully be increased to upgrade our rural schools because education is very important.

“The big allocation given to TVET (technical and vocational education and training) should help our students gain good technical and skill training for new jobs,” added Mutang, a lawyer with firms in Miri, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur.

Commenting further, he said the huge allocation for the Ministry of Rural Development for Sarawak and Sabah should be able to provide clean and treated water to the rural areas.

A Kayan paramount chief from Long Laput, Baram Temenggong Elizabeth Deng questioned why the budget for Sarawak was less than Sabah.

“Sarawakians definitely expect a bigger piece of the cake this time round in accordance with PH government promise to review the status of Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners with the peninsula,” she stressed.

“From my experience working with social NGOs, I wish some consideration would be given to welfare sectors especially the underprivileged,” she added.

“Why is Sarawak of nearly 124,451 square kilometres given less than Sabah which has an area of 73,631 square kilometres,” questioned 47-year-old contractor Mujan Lah from Long Bemang in Ulu Baram who is also a chairperson of Chamber of Sarawak Bumiputera Entrepreneurs (DUBS).

Leonard Luhat Laing, 36, of Long Bemang in Ulu Baram who is Saberkas (Sarawak United National Youth Organisation) Telang Usan secretary said Budget 2020 covers all walks of life.

“I really hope the budget initiatives can be enjoyed by the target group.  Bantuan Sara Hidup, MySalam, PeKa B40 and subsidies related to agriculture, fuel and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) can reduce the burden of the rural folks in Sarawak. Increased allocation for rural water, rural electrification projects and rural roads are crucial to narrow rural-urban divide.

“I thank the federal government for building a new clinic in Long San, Baram as stated in this Budget,” he added.

Meanwhile, 55-year-old John Trawe from Bario, a councillor quipped “Not much to look forward to and no big surprise for us.”