November 2, 2010, Tuesday
CHIEF Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said yesterday that the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita had increased more than 48 times from RM690 per capita in 1963 to RM33,507 per capita in 2009.
The increase in GDP over the last 46 years was due to the tremendous progress from the implementation of the state’s development strategies that had introduced activities that added value to its agro-based economy while expending the manufacturing sector, he said.
When tabling the 2011 State Budget in the State Legislative Assembly yesterday, Taib, who is Finance Minister said: “We are now laying the foundation to transform the state economy to a capital-intensive and knowledge-based economy, thereby moving up the value chain to become a high income and advanced economy.
“In terms of quality of life, our people have enjoyed greater access to public health and education facilities and services.”
To date, said Sarawak had about 560 government health facilities such as hospitals and clinics compared to only 85 in 1963, meaning that the health services coverage had been extended not only in towns but also in the rural and remote areas.
Taib also mentioned the educational development in the state today which was deemed to have improved remarkably.
“Now our children have greater access and opportunity to institutions of higher learning and skills training.
“Currently, we have one full university, Unimas (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) and local campuses of national and international universities. This of course has made higher education become much more affordable for our people,” he added.
With the healthy GDP per capita increase, he was glad to note that the incidence of poverty in the state had been reduced sharply from 60 per cent in the 1970s to only 5.3 per cent in 2009.
Average households monthly income had risen by eight times from only RM426 in 1970 to RM3,581 in 2009, he said, adding that the success in reducing the incidence of poverty was attributed to the various poverty eradication programmes and projects implemented by the government.
“We will continue to help the low income group particularly the hardcore poor as envisaged in the National Key Result Area (NKRA) for low income households.
“The rapid development for basic amenities and infrastructure is a crucial impetus for the acceleration of the growth and development of the state as well as to enable people in both the rural and urban areas to enjoy better public facilities and improve their quality of life.”
Taib also said to date more than 21,000 kilometres of roads had been built throughout the length and breadth of Sarawak.
An additional 918 kilometres of rural roads will be built under the NKRA for rural basic infrastructure by 2012, he said, adding that the 10th Malaysia Plan would also see more roads and bridges constructed.
In addition, he also stated that electricity supply coverage in the state had increased from 34 per cent in 1980 to more than 70 per cent in 2009.
Similar progress has been achieved in the provision of clean water supply whereby 80 per cent of the population have enjoyed clean water, he added.
“This is in spite of the not only widely scattered settlements in the rural areas but the small size of the settlements having less than 50 families.
“Further improvement will be made in these two areas with the implementation of the NKRA for rural basic infrastructure.”
Taib targeted the coverage for electricity would increase to 95 per cent and water supplies to 90 per cent by 2012.
“In its effort to improve the broadband household penetration rate, the government is working with the private sector to provide the infrastructure and services, particularly to the rural areas,” Taib said.