Sabah Will Be Richest State in Due Course
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It is only a matter of time before Sabah becomes the richest and most developed State in the country, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Together with neighbour Sarawak, he said the state even looks set to be the catalyst for national economic growth. He pointed out that the projection is not merely political rhetoric but one that is backed by official facts and figures.
The Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) expressed confidence that under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is regarded as the architect of the State's economic growth, the goal is not impossible to achieve.
"Give a bit more time to Musa and we'll see Sabah becoming the most developed state in the country.
This can happen. Indeed, the next wave of development in the country will be catalysed by Sabah and Sarawak," he said when officiating Sepanggar Umno division delegates meeting on Saturday, 19 Aug.
On this note, he slammed doomsday prophets particularly from the opposition for prophesying that Sabah is on the brink of economic collapse.
Rahman, who is also Kota Belud Member of Parliament, argued that history can prove this is not the case.
Disclosing figures, he pointed out that Sabah was a head above shoulders with the rest of the states when it recorded a 6.1 per cent economic growth in 2015, which was higher than the country's 5 per cent.
Its annual spending budget that same year, he said, was second highest in the country after Sarawak at RM4.12 billion.
"The next wave of the country's development will come from Sabah and Sarawak," he predicted.
He said people must realise where Sabah has come from economically by looking at history.
"Sabah's economy grew 176 times bigger in the span of 52 years from RM410 million in 1963 to RM70 billion two years ago.
"Household monthly income also grew 10 times from RM500 in 1976 to nearly RM5,000, 38 years later. This is something that we should be proud of."
Countering claims by the opposition that Sabah is heading down the poverty route, Rahman said the poverty rate currently stands at 3.9 per cent which is a huge reduction to what it in 1976 when "more than half of the population was poor" at 58 per cent.
He argued that as poverty is relative, people need to learn to differentiate between livelihood cost and lifestyle cost.
Similarly, he said, there has been a huge increase in state reserves where in 2015 it had RM2.1 billion as compared with only RM80 million in 1976.
In 1972 he said Sabah's annual revenue was RM176 million when its timber industry was at its peak.
"In 2015, it grew many times over to RM3.5 billion. We achieved this in 43 years whereas other countries took longer," he said.
Rahman added that Sabah also came only behind Sarawak as the highest beneficiary of Federal Government funds at RM1.09 billion in 2014.
"So, it's not right to say that the Federal Government has been neglecting us."