The high rate of poverty in Sabah indicates that government allocations are not reaching the targetted groups.
KOTA KINABALU 22/10/2012: MP for Tawau Chua Soon Bui has accused the federal government of cooking up figures to show poverty in the state was on a downward trend.
She said that it was obvious that the government’s poverty eradication programmes were not having the desired effect given that figures showed there had been an increase in the number of hardcore poor between 2004 and 2009.
Chua, who is also a vice-president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), said the department’s figures showed that Sabah’s poverty rate failed to decrease but increased for five years with 19.2% in 2004, 19.5% in 2007 and 19.7% in 2009.
“The high poverty rate indicates that the government allocations have not reached the focus and targeted groups,” she said.
Chua faulted the government’s delivery system as one of the main causes for the failure to tackle the problem in the state which is considered to have the highest number of poverty-stricken people in the country.
She said the delivery systems needed to be rectified immediately to prevent the programme from haemorrhaging more funds.
In addition, she said, the escalating cost of living in Sabah was having a major effect on any poverty-alleviation programme.
She accused the government of failing to single out and tackle the underlying issues that contribute to the problem in the state.
“It shows that the BN government has failed badly to deliver to the people in Sabah,” she said.
Chua was responding to the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s written reply in the Dewan Rakyat recently, in which he said the poverty rate in Sabah had dropped by 3.7% from 23.4% in 1999 to 19.7% in 2009 based on the findings of the Family Incomes and Basic Infrastructure Study 2009 conducted by Malaysia Statistics Department.
Sabah is poorest state
Najib also acknowledged that low education standard was among the key factors that was behind Sabah its current position as the poorest state in the country.
He was replying to a question by Chua who asked what were the factors that lead to Sabah being the poorest state in the country with highest poverty rate of 19.7% as compared to the national average of 3.8%.
She also wanted to know why the government programmes to reduce poverty in the state had failed to have much impact.
The Prime Minister explained that low education standard had contributed to lack of skilled workers which inevitably caused the investors to shun the state. This in return resulted in lack of investments to create employments for the people.
Other factors taken into account were the state’s vast size, scattered population and poor infrastructure all of which contributed to difficulty in implementing community development projects and programmes.
Najib also noted that the factors that caused poverty in the agriculture sector were largely due to unstable commodity prices, and high cost of operation.
The Tawau MP said the government should immediately form a special unit to evaluate and ensure the effectiveness of its poverty eradication programs in Sabah given that the billions of ringgit allocated to Sabah to eradicate poverty was not paying off.
She said it was unacceptable that Sabah had such high poverty rate in 2009 compared to the national average despite the state being rich in petroleum, gas and palm oil, while those living in states without oil and gas resources were better off.
Chua also said that although the government had allocated billions of ringgit for schemes such as Low Income Household, Basic Rural Infrastructure and Cost of Living, whether the needy families have benefited from them was unknown.