Tuesday, October 20

GDP growth cannot be measured in one year – Darell

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Datuk Darell Leiking

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking blasted former prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for saying that the Warisan government had failed in improving the state’s GDP growth.

He pointed out that Najib only used Sabah’s GDP growth of 2018 to gauge the performance of the Warisan government.

As a former prime minister, he said Najib should know better than just to use one-year GDP growth to measure the performance of a government.

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Warisan government was only in power for 26 months and indeed the period was a bit too short to gauge her performance hence, a full term of five years would be more realistic to make any judgement.

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On the same note the performance of the BN government’s contribution to the state development for 24 years should be gauged too,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Nonetheless, Darell said the former prime minister should know better and had a full understanding of Sabah’s economic structure with the Sabah GDP growth for 2018 was lower due to many main reasons.

He said commodity prices were lower globally due to external factors which was beyond the control of government.

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Sabah, being producer of commodities was affected especially the production of palm oil due to lower prices which in turn reflected in the negative growth of the agriculture sector in 2018.

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The mining and quarrying sector which is a major contributor to the state’s economy registered negative growth of -5.6 percent in 2018 mainly attributed to disruption in production of oil and gas by Petronas which is also beyond the control of the State Government.

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Both the agriculture and the mining and quarrying sectors alone contributed more than 50 percent of the State’s GDP,” he explained.

Darell went on to say that after so many years under the BN government until 2018, Sabah still faced poor infrastructure.

He said it could be seen that only 52 percent of the roads in Sabah were paved in 2018 while more than 90 percent of roads in Peninsular Malaysia were paved.

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After so many years, there is still shortage of electricity in the east coast of Sabah; no good public transport system in the state; and dilapidated schools, insufficient schools and poor network coverage to do on-line education.

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We have poor health services in the rural areas – poor condition of rural clinics, lack of medical officers and serious shortage of dentists.

“Being a biggest producer of crude palm oil in the country but not even one oleochemical plant in Sabah and being the biggest producer of cocoa powder in the country but minimal high value added downstream cocoa based products,” he said.

Darell added that the cost of living in the state was higher than in Peninsular Malaysia as reflected by higher Poverty Line Income (PLI) for Sabah.

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These are the legacies of Umno’s/BN’s 24-year state administration’s failure that PN now wants Warisan to settle in mere 26 months?”

He stressed that after only 26 months in power, the Warisan government had actually achieved a lot.

According to MIDA, he said investments into the state recorded the highest at RM12.4 billion in 2019 and the state had never experienced such high investments into Sabah before under previous government.

Investment into the manufacturing sector in Sabah also recorded the highest at RM6.5 billion in 2019. Sabah was ranked fourth highest in attracting investment into the manufacturing sector in 2019 among all the states in Malaysia.

”Under the previous government, total tourist arrivals were only 3.68 million in 2017.

But under the Warisan government, the tourism sector had boomed with tourist arrivals reaching 4.2 million in 2019 representing an increase of 14 percent with a couple of world renowned five star hotels opened and many budget hotels mushroomed during the past two years.

“Hotel occupancy rates were high and tourist destinations were always packed with tourists and the positive growth of the tourism sector had benefitted many sectors of the economy including the transportation sector, the food and beverage/restaurant sector, the agriculture sector, retail sector and other services sectors in other words, tourism sector provided employment to many locals.

“Air connectivity has significantly improved with excellent international direct flights into the state and increase air connectivity with other states in Malaysia,” he said.

Darell also pointed out that the exports of palm oil had grown significantly under the Warisan government. In 2019, the export volume of palm oil had reached 5.154 million tonnes (10% increase and highest since 2016) as compared to only 4.7 million tonnes in 2017 under the previous government.

He said the much needed diversification of agriculture commodities and food production were also given more emphasis under the Warisan government rather than concentrating on one crop only.

“The Warisan government has also formulated the State Agriculture Blueprint to diversify and explore the tremendous potential in the agriculture sector to ensure the locals and rural population shared the prosperity from the output of the agriculture sector with more agriculture land for the locals to venture into food production which is a strategic sector in view of Covid-19.

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Sabah is poised to position itself as the food hub for the nation and neighbouring countries,” he said.

Additionally, Darell said downstream processing of palm oil into cooking oil was another major achievement whereas there was minimal palm oil value added downstream activities under the previous government.

He said the Warisan government had already produced two Sabah cooking oil bands in the market.

“The construction sector was very active during the Warisan government. This is reflected by the imports of construction materials which grew by double digit figures in 2019. These include imports of flat rolled products of iron and steel (+47%), tubes, pipes & fittings of iron and steel (69%).”

He stressed that Warisan government also fought hard for funding to improve dilapidated schools from the Federal Government and at the same time, the State Government had also allocated funding to help improve the facilities at the rural schools.

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The State Government had also reached out to assist the schools in Sabah by donating masks to the students to ensure safety of students.

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Yayasan Sabah restored its original role by providing many scholarships to merited students from both the rural and urban areas.

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The State Government strives to enhance the skills of civil servants by providing more opportunities for trainings and scholarships,” he said.

Darell added that Warisan government also fought hard to improve health services in the rural areas.

Many of the rural clinics are dilapidated.

The State Government, he said, took the initiatives to donate the necessary equipment, PPEs, masks, sanitizers, food, etc to assist all the frontliners who worked tirelessly during MCO and post MCO.