Budget for better standard of living
By Lyna Mohammad

His Majesty's Government always strives to enhance the standard of living of the people by improving the infrastructure and socio-economic projects.

Keeping that in mind, the budget for the financial year 2006-2007 has been prepared with various programmes and plans that are not just limited to town areas but also villages and remote areas to enable the whole nation enjoy a balanced development and growth.

This was highlighted by Minister Finance II, Pehin Dato Awg Hj Abd Rahman Hj Ibrahim, in his presentation during the second segment of the first meeting of the State Legislative Council yesterday afternoon.

In order to achieve the objective, budgets have been earmarked to continue the programmes/projects such as $700 million for education facilities, $82 million for National Housing throughout the four districts, $217 million and $151 million for electrical and water supply services respectively, $74 million for road transportation infrastructure and $152 million for the Information Technology sector.

To emphasise the importance of security to the nation, 25 per cent of the overall budget of $4.5 billion has been earmarked for Defence.

With the capital expenditure provision of $1.6 billion, the country's economic growth is forecast to expand between 2.5 per cent and 3.55 per cent for the financial year 2006/2007.

The forecast growth is lower compared to other countries in the region, but one has to take into account the limited economic base and the country's dependency on oil and gas besides the rate of inflation of 1.1 per cent last year, which is quite low.

This year's economic growth forecast in the non-oil sector is estimated to expand at a more rapid rate, spearheaded by the public sector growth which in the second quarter of 2005 recorded a growth of 9.4 per cent.

The government's revenue for financial year 2006/2007 is estimated at 5,206,420,300 and 91 per cent ($4,716 million) will be from the oil and gas sector and the remaining $400 million from government services and $90 million from non-oil and gas sector.

Expenditure instrument is one of the important elements towards generating continuous economic growth, particularly in the government's efforts to diversify the nation's economy through increasing activities in the non-oil sector.

The nation's economy currently is more public sector driven that still relies a lot on government to stimulate the economy. Therefore, government's assistance is still needed in conducting programmes and projects in the form of capital expenditure and in the long run the public sector is hoped to be able to fulfill its role as the engine of growth for the nation's economy, the minister said.

Medical and health services have been earmarked $253 million in the budget. The government of His Majesty continuously monitors the development of infectious diseases that carry pandemic threats, which can harm millions of people.

Pehin Rahman also said that there is a need to increase knowledge and efficiency to face the challenges of the globalisation era where economic competitions do not confine to the borders of a certain country.

Yesterday's presentation by Pehin Dato Awg Hj Abd Rahman was to provide a sum out of the Consolidated Fund for the service of the financial year 2006/2007 and to appropriate the sum for certain purposes.

Objects and reasons of this Bill seek to authorise the issue of $4,531,014,673 out of the Consolidated Fund for the financial year 2006/2007 and to appropriate it for the purposes specified in the schedule. - Borneo Bulletin (17th Mar 2006)