KEEPING a tight ship in the state administration is by no means an easy task, but it is worth the effort if the results are significant.
Each year, the Sabah government renews its pledge of delivery in its annual budget and being the chief minister, I take full responsibility for this.
Preparing the annual budget is one thing, as I will always ensure the final figures represent the desires and needs of the people, and, at the same time, are balanced with present economic realities.
Executing it will be the next challenge and this is where I will visit areas, especially ones that need attention.
But, these are matters where the end results count, and I have to ensure that it is not like any of those empty promises made by people who only crave power.
These seasonal politicians will promise the moon, but I can assure you that they will deliver nothing.
They will lay out plans that are unreal, laced with sweet offerings, but they will not be achieved.
The state government is aware that there are shortcomings in some departments and agencies that need to be overcome, but this is where we face all of them based on realities and not empty promises.
In executing the state budget, the government will work prudently based on economic realities, but with a target of ensuring that the benefits reach the people.
Focus groups will also be given emphasis, such as the poor, underprivileged and custodians of religious or cultural groups — those who look after places of faith, Chinese schools, associations for the disabled and community leaders.
All these are in place along with policies that emphasise protecting our environment, wildlife and heritage sites that are major assets for our tourism industry, which brings in RM7.25 billion in revenue.
There are also funds to develop our younger generation by providing them with the skills and knowledge to steer the state’s economy in the future.
Despite all the brickbats from the opposition, I know those in the civil service and the people can see the results.
With greater federal cooperation and having a leader like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who understands our needs well, I can only see better days ahead.
Recently, Auditor General Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad commended the state government for the outstanding financial management in ministries, departments and agencies based on the National Audit Department’s Accountability Index.
She said 22 out of 31 ministries, departments and agencies audited in the state last year received the highest rating of five stars.
The financial management of four of them — Sabah Public Service Commission, state Youth and Sports Ministry, Tenom District Council and Kota Belud District Council — showed remarkable improvement, from three-star rating to five-star rating last year, according to the report.
Proud as I am of such excellent ratings, I reminded them recently not to be complacent, but to strive to further improve.
The state’s outstanding financial management was due to healthy competition among the government ministries, departments and agencies.
If I were to visit any local district council, I am confident that the district officers could tell me off-hand the latest developments, including people’s problems, shortcomings and project implementation.
The state administration has played its part in ensuring consistency and persistence when it comes to getting something done.
As a leader, I always believe in letting results, facts and figures be the judge of the state administration.
A few years ago, when I presented a surplus budget for the state, it made that sense of achievement sweet, but I knew we could do more for Sabah.
For this year, a budget of RM3.78 billion was approved with a surplus of RM32.83 million.
It was the third consecutive surplus budget and this year, it came with a projected revenue collection of RM3.817 billion.
This was achieved despite the 12.5 per cent drop in petroleum royalty last year.
I will be reporting about how it all works out this year and the plans for next year when I present the state’s 2018 Budget next month. But, what I can reiterate for now is it will be laid out with the need and desires of the people, based on reality.
The writer is Sabah chief minister