KOTA KINABALU, Dec 19 — The Sabah government should not be too dependent on the federal government in its efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, the state assembly was told today.
Sabah Assembly Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) said the state government itself needed to take aggressive and effective measures including controlling entry into Sabah as well as providing health facilities to the people.
“I hope we take more drastic measures to curb Covid-19, I suggest for the state government itself to try obtaining Covid-19 vaccines for the people of Sabah, and we cannot rely on the federal government alone (get the vaccines).
“(Under the Federal) Budget 2021, RM3 billion has been allocated to get vaccines, but Sabah, Selangor and some other states are red zones…I am worried that when the vaccines are distributed, Sabah will not be given priority,” he said when debating the Sabah Budget 2021 at the conference here today.
On Friday, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor tabled the state’s budget amounting to RM4.3 billion — the first under the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition — with an estimated revenue collection of RM4.48 billion next year, making it a surplus budget.
Meanwhile, Datuk Abdul Ghani Mohamed Yassin (PN-Nabawan) when debating the budget said it had a clear agenda to tackle the various issued in Sabah, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said Covid-19 was the cause of the current economic slowdown, therefore the focus on prioritising economic development with the theme ‘Prosperous People, Sustainable Economy’ was accurate.
“Economic growth that encourages people to be actively involved can have a multiplier effect on the future stability of the economy…this situation (Covid-19 pandemic) teaches us all to think better and strive to develop Sabah again,” he said.
Datuk Raime Unggi (appointed assemblyman) said the Covid-19 pandemic severely affected the income of farmers due to the lack of demand for commodities such as rubber, while purchasing power in the market was very weak.
Therefore, he said the government and related agencies should assist these groups by monitoring and ensuring that agricultural products were bought at reasonable prices, which can curb middlemen from reaping excessive profits.
Datuk Rubin Balang (Independent-Kemabong) said in order to overcome the issue of unemployment among youths during Covid-19, the group should be encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship and agriculture under post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts. — Bernama