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Enhancing public welfare has also become the priority of this year's budget, as can be seen with the increase in budget allocation for several basic services and public facilities.

This is due to the fact that the cost to meet the needs would rise based on the increase in population and service cost, and especially with the impact of the latest technology development.

The government expenditure also stressed on efforts to enhance the quality of life and poverty eradication.

This was stated by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim in the presentation of a bill seeking to supply a sum out of the consolidated fund for the service of the Financial Year 2012/2013 and to appropriate such sum for certain purposes.

In an effort to enhance the quality of health service in the country, additional allocation amounting to B$40.9 million has been given.

These include additional allocations of $8 million to purchase medicine (bringing the total to $56 million), an additional $2 million to finance the cost of sending and treating patients overseas (bringing the total to $10 million), and additional allocation of $4.86 million for medical supply and services for hospitals nationwide (bringing the total to $24.48 million).

Others include the provision amounting to $6.3 million to purchase hospital and healthcare equipment; $3.2 million to implement maintenance and upgrading of offices, hospitals and healthcare; $2.1 million to purchase five ambulances; $500,000 for health promotion activities; $5 million to contain infectious diseases threat, to finance logistic needs, purchase medicines, lab supply and equipment.

For the Financial Year 2011/2012, allocations have been set at B$18 million to provide recreational and sports areas and to repair sports facilities, whereby the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will receive $8 million; Ministry of Development ($5 million); and Ministry of Home Affairs ($5 million). This will continue to be provided in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Meanwhile, in an effort to upgrade basic infrastructures and public facilities, an additional budget of B$5.3 million has been allocated to the Public Works Department, making it a total of $50 million to finance the maintenance of water supply and roads; $7.5 million to implement maintenance and beautification of housing areas; allocation of $15.35 million with project cost of $40 million to upgrade water supply, allocation of $15 million with project cost of $62.9 million for upgrading work for sewerage and drainage system including local flood mitigation; and allocation of $14.6 million with project cost of $55.4 million for works to manage congestion and road safety.

In addition, allocations have also been given under the National Development Plan to include flood prevention, whereby several projects will be implemented including drainage works in Sg Kedayan (Phase 5) and Sg Menglait (Phase 5) amounting to $12.95 million, Kg Ban/Mulaut Flood Alleviation Project (Phase 5) worth $5.85 million, and $4 million to improve drainage in Pekan Tutong, Temburong and Kg Tungku.

A sum of $27.28 million has also been allocated with a total project cost of $58.40 million to improve and widen main roads including Jln Muara and Jln Aman to Jln Tanah Jambu, Jln Kuala Lurah, Jln Lamunin, Jln Sg Mau/Merangking/Buau and so on.

For electrical services, an additional allocation of $3 million (bringing the total to $50 million) has also been provided to finance electricity supply, operation and maintenance of systems for generators ($1.7 million) and $12 million (with project cost $36 million) to supply and install prepaid meters.

A total of B$300,000 has been provided as assistance to lessen the operational expenditure of NGOs. This allocation is provided under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for organisations to effectively implement their programmes in assisting the less privileged.

In supporting the government effort to enhance food security, an additional budget of $5 million for paddy planting has been been provided, making it a total of $20 million.

To attract the involvement of leadership at grassroots level in upholding the welfare of the people, an additional $400,000 is allocated for Mukim and Village Consultative Councils. For other Mukim and Village economic activities, the figure has increased from $200,000 to $500,000, which is specifically to support the 'One Village, One Product' initiative.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin