KOTA KINABALU, The Sabah Budget 2024, which was passed by the State Legislative Assembly last Thursday, is capable of driving the economy of the community and increasing the self-sufficiency level (SSL) of food supply in the state.

Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah (FeRTAS) president Walter Kandayon said the RM106.14 million allocated for rural tourism development would benefit community-based tourism (CoBT) and further boost the economy in the respective areas.

He said the CoBT programme has been proven to contribute to Sabah’s development by generating income, creating job opportunities and developing human capital in rural areas. Therefore, strengthening the programme through the budget is a step in the right direction.

Walter also highlighted that the state government had acknowledged several CoBT programmes in Kiulu and Kota Belud as pioneers in rural tourism development, which could generate an income of up to RM20,000 per month.

“With a bigger allocation, more rural tourism programmes can be implemented. We at FeRTAS would like to thank the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor,” he told Bernama.

Themed “Sabah Teguh, Rakyat Terbela”, the Sabah Budget 2024 proposes an estimated revenue of RM5.737 billion and supply expenditure of RM5.701 billion.

The State Farmers’ Organisation (PPN) Sabah president Datuk Nazri Abdullah said the allocation of RM813.56 million to support agriculture, industry and tourism would further boost the growth of the respective sectors.

“We welcome the state government’s commitment to provide RM18 million for paddy field ploughing incentives. We anticipate that this effort and incentive can help boost the state’s rice production and, at the same time, increase Sabah’s rice SSL,” he said.

Nazri further said that the state government’s commitment to reviving the State Paddy and Rice Board and promoting paddy cultivation was important to ensure food security and reduce rice imports.

“It is also important to ensure that the price of our rice is always affordable and not burden our people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sabah West Coast Smart Consumers Association president David Chan expressed hope that the Sabah Budget 2024 would drive economic recovery post-COVID-19, which has affected many businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“What is important about this budget is that we want economic growth in Sabah to remain positive. Positive growth shows that Sabah’s economy is viable,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency