KUCHING: Sarawak government should focus more on boosting the small and medium-sized enterprises, eco-tourism and environmental protection when tabling its 2018 budget.

Sarawak Management Institute chairman Tan Sri Hamid Bugo said this was on grounds that many people had growing needs for better income and living standards.

“We want opportunities to do more business and an assistance for the start-ups.”

He said people were also more keen on efforts to boost eco-tourism as Sarawak had many products with high potential but lack marketing platforms and infrastructure to expand.

Tourism industry players, he said, were expecting for allocations to improve facilities and run promotion campaign.

He said people had also started focusing on environmental issues and sustainable forest management.

“We worry about polluted rivers and damage to the forest,” he said at the Sarawak pre-budget forum here today.

Hamid said there were participants who had proposed that the state government allocate funds to keep public toilets clean.

Sarawak government, he said, should also intensify efforts to develop rural areas.

He said there were also calls for a more effective delivery system by the state government to cut cost and save time.

“It is also time for the state government to empower the civil service. Besides, more trainings should be conducted to improve the workforce in Sarawak as it is moving into digital economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, panelist Datuk Alex Ting suggested that the government introduce a social housing policy to assist the low-income families and rural people live in the city with low-rental fees.

“There should be a policy for houses to be rented to low-income families, especially newly-weds or youths from the villages to find work in the city.”

Ting said low rental rates should be set for the low-income bracket for about three to five years before they could afford to buy their own home.

“I come from a poor families and I know how it feels without a house,” he said.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/10/293438/sarawakians-expecting-more-focus-sme-eco-tourism-environment-state-2018