KOTA KINABALU, Nov 9 — The Parti Warisan Sabah government today presented its first budget of RM4.16 billion with an expected surplus of RM105.32 million.
Chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is also state finance minister, said that the main agenda of the budget this year, themed “driving growth for the people”, was to increase its revenue collection from existing and new sources.
“The government proposes a total expenditure allocation of RM4.16 billion next year against estimated revenue of RM4.27 billion. This would mean a surplus budget involving a sum of RM105.32 million, which is important to maintain the state’s financial stability.
“The surplus involves an increase of RM40.43 million or equivalent to 62.31 per cent compared to the year 2018. This is the highest surplus in the last five years,” he said, adding that he would need the cooperation of revenue collectors to increase their efforts.
Last year, the Sabah government under Barisan Nasional tabled RM4.104 billion for its budget.
Oil royalty is expected to remain the highest contributor which accounts for 37.5 per cent or RM1.6 billion while sales tax on crude palm oil is the second, with RM900 million and state lottery tickets will contribute RM60 million.
Other highlights include RM636.69 million to the state water department for its operation and restructuring exercise, which had already borne results since being managed by the new appointed director in August and collected RM66.8 million of revenue. They are expected to collect RM330.2 million next year.
Under the budget, there will be an increased allocation for scholarships, bursaries and financial assistance for students, from RM37 million for 2018 to RM52 million for next year.
To encourage young entrepreneurs, RM24.45 million is being allocated for a special fund and loan, which will also boost the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector.
For religious development, the state government is allocating RM95.34 million for Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JHEAINS) for Islamic development and RM35 million to non-Muslim institutions including missionary and private schools.
Among the people-centric allocations is RM5 million special allocation for hill paddy farmers in Ranau, Tambunan, Keningau, Kota Belud, Sipitang, Pitas and Kota Marudu, which is considered a niche sector aimed at the health and ethically conscious.
The budget also includes an RM500 bonus for civil servants to be paid next month.
Earlier in his preamble, Shafie said that the budget was a meaningful one, as the first under the new coalition that carries the hopes and aspirations of the people to “cleanse the country from various issues, especially on corruption, accountability and leakages.”
“The Sabah government shoulders a heavy responsibility in fulfilling the aspirations of the people, who desire development and better living standards amid a challenging environment, due to rising cost of living in the urban and rural areas.
“I realise that this is not an easy task because there are times when unpopular actions has to be taken by the government to allow transformation and improvement.
He said the government has tried its best to implement all its promises in the first six months of its administration, but has faced constraints on a policy level, as well as finance and management.