KUALA LUMPUR • There were plenty of big projects listed by Prime Minister Najib Razak when he unveiled the 2016 Budget on Friday, including billions of dollars for MRT lines, rural roads and upgrading of airports, as the government moves to keep the economy humming next year amid worries of a global slowdown.
These projects included a RM1 billion (S$328.7 million) outlay for a bus network system in Sabah, RM900 million to ease traffic snarls at the major Kuala Lumpur road of Jalan Tun Razak, and RM200 million to improve pot-holed roads in rural Felda land settlements where a big chunk of government support is located.
And then there were the multi-year mega projects, such as the RM11 billion plan to build the town centre for wired-up Cyberjaya city south of Kuala Lumpur, and a RM7 billion airport township, dubbed Aeropolis, around Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Datuk Seri Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said more than a quarter of economic growth next year will come from investments in domestic projects as Malaysia expects slower exports of its key commodities like petroleum and palm oil.
"Domestic investment activity will be intensified with its contribution to GDP estimated at 26.7 per cent in 2016. It will be driven by the increase in private investment at RM218.6 billion and supported by public investment of RM112.2 billion," he said, when unveiling the Budget.
Parts of the MRT train network - Malaysia's biggest-ever single project being built at a cost of RM42 billion - will be ready by March next year, PM Najib said on Friday, giving updates on the much-anticipated network.
Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs are currently served by the Light Rail Transit, monorail and KTM's fast-train Komuter networks, while the MRT will cover a much larger area within the heavily populated Klang Valley.
A new line, called MRT II, will be built next year from Sungai Buloh in the north-west of KL, to Putrajaya in the south, spanning 52km and costing another RM28 billion, the Premier said.
The focus on rural projects is seen by analysts as the government's way of rewarding its main support base of rural Malays in Peninsular Malaysia and bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak.
Excluding the Felda road projects, the government will spend another RM1.4 billion to build and upgrade rural roads.
The sprawling city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital city, will get a RM1 billion new bus network system under the Bus Rapid Transit that has been implemented in Penang and parts of Kuala Lumpur.
A new airport will be built in Mukah town in Sarawak, and the Pahang, Kelantan and Malacca airports will be be upgraded.