Sabah sets up trust fund for unused federal allocations

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah State Legislative Assembly sitting today passed the Government Trust Funds (Amendment) Bill 2023 to establish the State Government Special Trust Fund.
State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the establishment of the fund was an initial preparation to keep the annual allocations from the federal government that had not been used up, should they agree not to have them returned.
He said the fund could obtain financial resources from donations or contributions from the state government, government agencies, the corporate sector, non-governmental organisations and individuals.
According to Hajiji, the special trust fund would assist the state government in carrying out various programmes or activities, particularly those involving contingencies such as disaster relief.
“The fund is also for (carrying out) poverty eradication programmes, the provision of social facilities such as for education and health, the construction and maintenance of roads and slopes, water and electricity as well as other development,” he said when tabling the bill.
During the debate session, opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) expressed his full support for the setting up of the special trust fund, saying that it would bring many benefits to the state and its people.
He said all the allocations announced and channelled to Sabah should be managed by the state and not held by other parties.
“(Based on) track records, development projects (announced) are not 100 per cent completed (within that year), which means only part of the allocation is used, and the Finance Ministry held the rest. This worries us.
“If the allocation is for Sabah, let it not be held by Kuala Lumpur (federal government)… let the state manage it to ensure the projects can be implemented,” he said.
However, Mohd Shafie suggested that there should be a term of reference in distributing the fund’s money, among which disaster allocations can only be used for relief and project allocations only for projects.
When winding up the debate, Masidi said the fund’s establishment goes beyond politics and would ensure that all development allocations for Sabah remain in the state to provide comprehensive development for the people.
“I am grateful to everyone and Senallang (Mohd Shafie) for wanting to bring this matter to Parliament (as Semporna MP). I hope all 25 Sabah MPs can show their support later for the sake of Sabah. We may have different political views, but all of us want Sabah to advance,” he said.
He said the Sabah government was still negotiating with the federal government to keep the remaining allocation in the state and not be returned. Therefore support from all quarters, especially elected representatives, is crucial in realising the deal.
Masjidi emphasised that the State Government Special Trust Fund aimed to ensure the prompt implementation of projects, with no hidden agenda.
“We can’t do anything when the money runs out, especially at the end of the year. So this is the purpose of the fund, to ensure we still have money to ease the burden of the people,” he added.
The bill was then passed with majority voice votes before Speaker Datuk Seri Kadzim M Yahya adjourned the sitting until Thursday.


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