The Budget Beleaguers Borneo

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Living with higher prices of goods amid cuts in fuel and sugar subsidies and the impending GST, those in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak struggle even more to make ends meet.

Sometimes when I crave a so drink, I’ll pop into Ba Kelalan’s small shop where the shelves creak with a bewildering array of goods. From spare parts to football shoes to dry goods and, yes, so drinks, the shop stocks anything and everything. Storekeepers in remote settlements have to anticipate every single need and want that may arise suddenly.

But don’t expect bargains. A can of Coke here costs RM2, compared to RM1.40 at the Village Grocer in KL. Sundry goods and food are expensive in this Sarawak settlement, which is five hours by logging road from the nearest town of Lawas where villagers stock up on necessities and also where this store gets its supplies. The goods are transported on four- wheel drives up the mountain to the village, and only rarely by plane.


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