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Focus on lifting three poorest districts

Zahid and Hajiji with others at the meeting.

Kota Kinabalu: The Rural and Regional Development Ministry (KKDW) will zero in on assisting Pitas, Kota Marudu and Tongod – the three poorest districts in Sabah – as among the efforts to help the State.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also Rural and Regional Development Minister, said the State Government had proposed to the Ministry to assist the three districts with the implementation of rural development projects.

“This is a new game-changer proposed by the State Government and the Ministry will implement it after a discussion with the Economy and Finance ministries,” he said after co-chairing the coordination meeting between his Ministry and the State Government, here, Wednesday.

He added that the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) has the modality to implement such programme as it has set up a paddy estate in Pasir Salak, Perak.

“The villagers involved in the programme will become the shareholders of the estate and they will receive dividends. 

“They will also work in the paddy estate…housing areas will also be provided by Felcra so that there will be a new economic growth area in the place.”

He said further details will be disclosed by Hajiji after it is being discussed with the State Cabinet.

Zahid said the meeting focused on coordinating project development implementation under the allocation approved on Feb 24.

“We have identified several quick wins and game changers that we have agreed upon and will be coordinated, especially on coordinating the implementation of allocation for the State Government from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

“The Prime Minister had previously announced that projects worth below RM50 million will be implemented by the State Government.

“And the coordination is done by forming a technical committee between the State Secretary and the Rural and Regional Development Ministry secretary-general. The coordination will involve department heads from both Sabah Government and the Ministry.

Meanwhile, Hajiji said State Government will cooperate with the Federal Government in matters related to development to facilitate the implementation of such projects.

He was confident that the development programmes under the federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry for Sabah will be better managed.

“Sabah is one of the largest states in Malaysia that is in dire need of assistance from the Federal Government in developing basic infrastructure facilities and utilities such as water supply, electricity, rural roads, communication coverage and others.

“These basic infrastructure facilities and utilities are very much needed by Sabah since the State is lagging behind in this aspect, especially in the rural areas.

“The initiative taken by the Ministry led by the Deputy Prime Minister will ensure that the Ministry’s programmes and projects for Sabah can be implemented more orderly and quickly.”

Welcoming the inaugural coordination meeting, Hajiji said it would strengthen the cooperation between the State Government and the Ministry in ensuring the smooth implementation of development programmes in Sabah.

Also present were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Seri Dr Joachim Gunsalam (Local Government and tate Housing Minister) and Datuk Shahelmey Yahya (Public Works Minister) as well as Sabah Rural Development Minister Datuk Jahid Jahim, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Rubiah Wang, Rural and Regional Development Ministry’s Secretary-General Datuk Seri Ramlan Harun and State Secretary Datuk Seri Safar Untong.

–Ricardo Unto