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Chief Minister's Budget Will Empower Sabah Economy, Says SUCCC

The Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) today hailed Chief Minister Musa Aman's surplus budget as a sign of further economic progress to come in critical areas of the state's economy.

SUCCC president Andrew Liew said the budget, announced last Friday, would create greater economic spin-offs and business opportunities for all Sabahans, from taxi drivers and durian farmers to those involved in the tourism industry.

"Tourism has been allocated a tremendous amount. This will set the pace for the promotion of tourism for the impending completion of the Sabah International Convention Centre, Tanjong Aru Eco project, which will create a tourism destination in itself, other hotels coming up, plus the development of tourism products that can cater for higher value and more tourists in the future" he said in a statement today.

He added that the budget would attract more investments in the state.

On Friday, Musa proposed a total budget expenditure of RM4.1 billion for the year 2018, which is a surplus of RM64.89 million from its total revenue, double the surplus announced last year.

A key attraction was the budget's 100% increase for its special allocation, from RM53 million to RM115 million next year.

Under the allocation, RM12 million was set aside for the state tourism ministry, to enable the development of the tourism industry in rural areas and encourage the participation of local communities.

It also included RM7 million for cleaner towns and RM8 million to restore toilets, playgrounds, jogging tracks and public parks; beautify old buildings, and install security cameras in public places.

Some RM1.33 billion meanwhile was allocated for infrastructure and transportation. Liew said the budget was made possible through Musa's prudent financial management.

He added that Sabah's revenue base had broadened considerably from a commodity-based economy to one based on the service and manufacturing industry.

"These two industries have contributed 70% to 80% of Sabah's economy. This is a remarkable achievement since Musa took over the reins of the Sabah government in 2003.”

Liew said many other states did not have the luxury of a "decent-sized reserve” in the state treasury like Sabah and were highly dependent on handouts from the federal government.

"Sabah has a very decent state reserve which, in laymen's terms, is like ‘a big amount of savings in the bank'.

"The role of this reserve cannot be overestimated in its benign and positive influence on Sabah's economy, and has positioned Sabah to enjoy budgets like this one" he added.

Liew also hailed the progress of the downstream industry in the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park, saying Musa's decision to expand downstream would protect Sabah's economic future.

Likewise, he said agriculture would continue being an important part of the state's economy which was dominated by oil palm.

"For the smallholders, funds have been allocated for the development of crops which will help them increase their income.

"Eyeing the export market for durians is a good example" he said.

He also said the significant allocation given for the development of youth and women shows the State Government's recognition of how important these segments of society is to the progress of the state and nation.

"Overall, it is a budget that has taken into account the needs of the state's socio-economic development, the economic sectors and the welfare of various target groups like women, single mothers, youths, the disabled and many more" he said.

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