12th Malaysia Plan: Govt aims to bridge socio-economic gap between less and more developed states

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Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is pictured at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur September 27, 2021. — Bernama pic
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is pictured at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur September 27, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Upgrades in basic amenities, infrastructure, and communications to bridge the socio-economic gap between the less and more developed states has been listed as one of the main priorities within the 12th Malaysia Plan(12MP), the prime minister announced today.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, when delivering his 12MP speech, said efforts aimed at increasing the standards of living while working towards eradicating poverty are being done in these states, namely, Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu.

“For this purpose, at least 50 per cent from the entire allocation from the National Basic Developments fund will be distributed to these states.

“This allocation will be focused on the creation of basic infrastructures, digitisation, education, healthcare services, and economic development. I will personally monitor the implementation closely,” he said during his speech in Parliament today.

Sabah and Sarawak

Specifically, Ismail Sabri declared his commitment to developing the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, such as ensuring the availability of basic amenities like gas, water, and electricity, while also focusing on digitisation and general safety.

This includes the creation of 1,400 kilometres of paved roads, 1,150 kilometres of the Pan Borneo Highway.

He also announced his stand to resolve withstanding issues under the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

Ismail Sabri then highlighted the RM7.7 billion allocated to Sabah and Sarawak under the country’s Jendela fiberisation plan, which he said has seen 2,645 new digital infrastructures erected in Sabah and another 2,117 in Sarawak to date.

To meet the electricity demand of these states, he said the government is also set to build more power plants, upgrade the Sabah East-West grid, with the Baleh hydroelectric dam in Sarawak set for completion in 2025.

“Healthcare services will also see an upgrade with the completion of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Teaching Hospitals.

“The construction of 26 new clinics will further improve the healthcare system at suburban clinics within these two states,” he said.

Also among these efforts is the planned restoration of dilapidated homes which is set to benefit more than 26,000 poverty-stricken households.

Ismail also announced the government’s plan to build more security control posts in the towns of Manalunan, Simanggaris, and Kalabakan in Sabah while upgrading the two Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Safety (ICQS) Complexes in Tebedu and Serikin, Sarawak.

This is in anticipation of increased logistics and economic ties with Kalimantan, Indonesia, which is set to become the Republic’s new economic capital after Jakarta.

“With the implementation of these strategies and initiatives to spur the development in Sabah and Sarawak, the annual average gross domestic product (GDP) of Sabah is expected to increase by up to 6.5 per cent, and Sarawak at a rate of 5.3 per cent from the period of 2021 to 2025.

“I am confident these two states have the ability and the number of resources that can be optimised fully,” he said.

Across the board, Ismail said higher-value activities will be promoted in these less-developed states through e-commerce platforms, smart-farming, and rural industries while paving more than 2,800 additional kilometres of roads.

The government also aims to achieve a 98 per cent access rate for clean water and 99 per cent accessibility for electricity supply within these states.

Additionally, Ismail also announced his administration’s commitment towards implementing the Felda recovery plan to bring the corporation back to its former glory.

He said this involved financial restructuring and raising the socio-economic levels of Felda residents.

“The government’s intention is for Felda to become a pioneer in smart farming and production of the country’s foods. We want Felda to be more sustainable and become an example or role model for the transformation of the suburban community who are modern and progressive,” he said.

Additionally, Ismail said the government is looking to introduce a new second-generation housing policy to allow the younger generation to build their homes on specified plots of lands according to set specifications to allay issues of insufficient suburb housing.

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