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Economic Transformation to Benefit Rural Communities

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As the economy continues to grow by 4 to 5 per cent this year, rural communities are set to benefit from this transformation as well.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the rural development agenda would be implemented in the next eight years, through the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

He pointed out that the Government had a proven track record in managing its economy well, unlike the Opposition, which resorted to populist promises that could bankrupt the nation.

There are countries in Europe in financial trouble because, like the Opposition, they spent more than they could sustain, but Najib confirmed that this would not happen in Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional Government.

"We cannot simply spend money just to gain support for elections or promise something that we cannot deliver," said the Prime Minister.

Najib was speaking on Saturday at the launch of the RM30 million Sabah Handicraft Centre, where some 12,000 people have been trained to enhance their skills in making and marketing their products.

He said focus would be given to the handicraft-making talents of the rural folk in Sabah, and this was part of a bigger agenda of transforming the state and the country to become a high-income nation by 2020.

"We do not want to see their creations being admired merely in the village or rural areas. We want such talents to receive international recognition," he said, adding that funds would be readily available for such plans.

Najib pointed out that RM20 million had been allocated by the Government for a training programme for handicraft makers.

"This is all for the benefit of the people, no matter where they are in the country and it is based on sound ideas and plans that are realistic," he said.

Najib also launched the Keningau Integrated Livestock Centre (KILC), the first large-scale livestock centre in the country.

The RM763 million, 2,084-acre project under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) is part of the Sabah Interior Food Valley initiative.

The centre is expected to have 2,000 cows to produce six million litres of milk a year to supply the whole country, and for export to neighbouring countries including Brunei.

Brunei has a 40 per cent stake in the project through a RM120 million initial investment.

"We can be proud of this achievement (Brunei's investment) as we chose a Pensiangan district in the interior of Sook and not a location in Kuala Lumpur," Najib said at the ground-breaking ceremony.

The Prime Minister described the project as one of the successes in SDC's development and a key part of the Government's strategy to transform rural areas.

"Since a long time ago we have achieved successes upon successes but we should not be complacent as the rural development agenda would not be completed for the next few decades," he said.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the nation's achievements are based on comprehensive and holistic planning and its ability to manage the economy well. All eyes are now on Budget 2013 that he is expected to unveil in September.

"We have a clear road map, and know all our people's hardships and needs because we have a sufficient data base," Najib said.

Malaysia is therefore set to develop across both urban and rural areas, covering all sections of the population and all income levels. The Government's roadmap will ensure that in the country's push towards high-income status, no group will be left behind.

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