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The Labuan Blueprint had nothing on cutting agri import bill
Published on: Sunday, January 21, 2018

By Ben Osman
The people of Labuan who were anxiously waiting for the golden economic opportunity for Labuan were very disappointed with the Labuan Economic Blue Print for Labuan up to 2030, as announced and presented by the Prime Minister at the Town Padang before a crowd of 2,000 people.

The so-called Economic Blue Print is not about economic activities for the people.

The Economic Blue Print catered mostly to the “Contractors” economy. It is mostly about construction work.

Even material shops will not benefit much. Further, as usual, almost 100pc of the workers would be foreigners.

There is very little contributions in term of cash injection to the local.

The people of Labuan need very badly economic activities. A year ago the Member of Parliament of Labuan mentioned that people of Labuan are so poor, even to the extent of asking some money to buy milk for their children.

Even with the implementation of the Economic Blue Print, overwhelmingly the people will be looking for jobs that will give them a steady income of a thousand ringgit a month.

Presently the economic income of Labuan is only the payment of salaries by the Federal Government.

The number of Federal servants is pretty high compared to many states in Malaysia.

Labuan has an area of over 20,000 acres. Looking around there are more than a few thousand acres – mostly abandoned paddy land available for agriculture. Fruits, vegetables and chilli padi can be planted on these abandoned lands. Remember, Labuan imports almost everything interms of agricultural products from either Sabah or Sarawak.

Unfortunately, these importations will be cut short when the Custom and Agriculture Department of Labuan impose restrictions on imports of agricultural produce from Sabah or Sarawak. It is the talk that Durians will soon need permit to be imported to Labuan and further the Agriculture Department will install X-ray at all entry points to Labuan. Visitors will be subject to be X-rayed, if Durian is found in the visitor’s stomach, he will be asked to go to the Rest Room and clear his stomach before being allowed to enter Labuan.

The few thousand acres, which mostly belong to people, could easily be developed.

Hilly areas are good for fruits such as Avocado, Jack fruit, Durian, Papua Lai Chee and many others.

The flat area mostly paddy land can be planted with vegetables, specially Chilli Padi.

An acre of chilli padi can bring thousands of ringgits per month.

The Agriculture Department of Labuan should initiate development of these abandoned lands for agricultural development by developing the land with Federal funds – the most about RM6,000 per acre or say for two thousand acres would be RM12,000. This is peanuts for the Federal Government.

In addition, hand over these lands to the owner or those unemployed to look after one or two acre lots.

In addition, as the usual practice, the Department also can bring another 20 or more Agricultural officers from West Malaysia. This alone will bring more cash flow to Labuan.

The proposed Bridge which was announced by Prime Minister after Prime Minister and much talk among the people of Labuan, even if ever built with Federal Budget of RM3 billion, will not help economically the Labuan people.

The most to and fro vehicles passing through a thousand a day. This is nothing for a bridge costing billions.

It is likely the State Government of Sabah will object the building of the bridge.

Whatever it is, there is no population on both sides to support the economy of the bridge.

Labuan people will realise eventually that the bridge, build or not, will not affect their livelihood.

However, if the people of Labuan remain passive, then there is nothing that can solve their economic or cash flow problems.

Ben Osman

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