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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Jeffrey to Putrajaya: Pay up overdue grants

 

Jeffrey Kitingan said he has called for a constitutional white paper on the rights of Sabah and Sarawak. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Deputy chief minister Jeffrey Kitingan has aimed a thinly-veiled dig at the federal government over long overdue payments of various grants constitutionally guaranteed to both states.

He said the federal government’s obligations towards Sabah and Sarawak are just not limited to maintaining diplomatic ties and security, but to also ensure the Borneon states are financially capable of running their respective regions.

He said several clauses in the Federal Constitution detail Putrajaya’s monetary obligations towards Sabah and Sarawak.

He highlighted the federal government’s obligation to pay a special grant amounting to 40% of net revenue derived by the federation from Sabah. The federal government currently pays Sabah only RM26.7 million.

“This is only one. Other financial arrangements agreed upon and adopted into the amended Federal Constitution under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) include road grant, capitation grant, and import and export duty,” Kitingan said, in a statement here today.

“If the federal government met its monetary obligations to Sabah and Sarawak, I am sure both will be able to solve half of our financial problems and carry out more development projects.”

He was speaking after attending a MA63 socio-economy working committee meeting here today.

Kitingan said, in addition to what the Sarawak government has repeatedly stated, the Borneon states are much too broad to be considered just another state within the federation.

Both regions overshadow the more developed Malayan peninsula in terms of size.

“As such, I have proposed the committee produce a white paper on the constitutional rights of Sabah and Sarawak before the next committee meeting.

“The committee should focus on solving this main issue, namely reclaiming and restoring our constitutional rights, rather than talking about how many telecommunication towers we should have,” he said.

At state-level, the Keningau MP said he would convene a MA63 committee meeting to coordinate and list all concerns including MA63 breaches and how these can be addressed and put right one by one.

Meanwhile, Kitingan said the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government aims to improve the digital economy in the state and is keen to work with Sarawak, as Sabah is also looking to establish its own Sabah Digital Economy Authority.

“The development of our infrastructure is prohibitively expensive. Our attention should now be drawn to the future and the digital economy is that future. I don’t want to see Sabah left behind again and receive only crumbs. We must obtain all our financial rights as agreed upon in the MA63 and as provided for in the Federal Constitution,” he said. - FMT

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