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Govt looks out for rural folk

PUTRAJAYA: The large allocation given to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry in Budget 2018 shows that the Government always has the welfare of the rural folks at heart, said its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said the RM3.869bil allocated under development expenditure for his ministry made it the second biggest development expenditure recipient in Budget 2018, after the Prime Minister’s Department.
Sabah and Sarawak will enjoy a huge bulk of the allocation.
Both states were allocated RM928mil and RM1.1bil respectively, which is more than 52% of the ministry’s development expenditure.
“The huge allocation shows that the Government continues to focus on the 7.8 million rural folks in the country, ensuring that their well-being as well as economic development are looked after.
“The Government also ensured that rural development in Sabah and Sarawak is given top priority, which is why more than half of the budget goes to the two states.
“As the remaining 47.5% is split between 11 other states, that shows the each state in Peninsular Malaysia receive only 5% on average.
“So, claims by the Opposition that the Government is neglecting Sabah and Sarawak are clearly untrue,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference held at his ministry.
In terms of infrastructure, RM934mil has been set aside for road projects in rural areas, with RM500mil of it going to Sabah and Sarawak.
About RM672mil has been dished out for electricity supply, of which RM620mil will be handed to 10,000 rural houses in the two Bornean states.
Out of a total RM420mil to provide clean water supply, RM300mil will be put aside for some 3,000 houses in rural east Malaysia.
Another highlight for the ministry in Budget 2018 is the increased funding for Majlis Amanah Rakyat’s (MARA) higher education scholarship to RM2.5bil.
“This is the highest ever allocation given to MARA. Before this, RM2bil was the largest it had ever received.
“With RM2.5bil, some 90,000 students are expected to benefit from it,” said Ismail Sabri.
The Orang Asli community is also the recipient of a host of goodies in Budget 2018.
About RM60mil has been allocated to develop Orang Asli villages while RM50mil has been allotted to improve the livelihood of the community as well enhance its economic development.
For the first time, Orang Asli students will receive a special aid of RM3,000 when they are offered a place in any university.
“At present, these Orang Asli students already enjoy a scholarship if they enter university, but they will only receive the scholarship money after they enrol.
“The RM3,000 aid will be given to them when they receive their offer letters. The aid will hopefully encourage Orang Asli youths to continue studying and not be hampered by poverty,” said Ismail Sabri.
Orang Asli village leaders, or Tok Batin, will also enjoy a one-off RM1,500 special incentive which is given to all village headmen in Budget 2018.
Other Budget 2018 highlights for the ministry include allocations for entrepreneurial programmes, replanting programmes and the Community Development Department (KEMAS).
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