Penang councils spent over RM156m on 131 projects in the last three years, says exco

Opalyn Mok
Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo speaks to reporters during a press conference in George Town September 10, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 13 — Both local councils in Penang have been recording deficit budgets almost every year since 2016 due to increasing costs in implementing public projects for the people, state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said.

He said the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) spent a total RM122.744 million to implement 25 projects while the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) implemented a total of 106 projects at a cost of RM33.73 million between 2015 and 2018.

A huge chunk of the amount spent in MBPP went towards infrastructure works — at RM100.5 million — such as the construction of the Bukit Kukus paired road project and other roads, installation of CCTVs and creation of bicycle lanes.

MBPP also spent RM3 million on flood mitigation projects and RM19 million on development projects such as building of public toilets, sports complex, upgrading of markets and a CCTV centre.

“MBPP has committed to another 32 projects costing RM468 million for 2019,” he said in a press conference recently when announcing a review of the assessment rates.

The 32 projects consisted of infrastructure works (RM407 million) such as the Bukit Kukus paired road project, Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA), Intelligent Operation Centre (IOC) and Business Improvement District Scheme (BIDS).

The rest of the allocation went towards flood mitigation (RM24.5 million) and various development projects (RM35.7 million) such as CCTV, basketball courts and public toilets.

A total 767 CCTVs were installed on the island and out of that, 22 were to monitor earth works on hill slopes.

“MBPP also allocated an additional RM7.4 million to install another new 150 CCTVs, bringing the total CCTVs to 917 units,” he said.

MBPP will be allocating a total RM179.03 million to implement 31 projects between 2020 and 2022.

Out of this sum, a total RM6.5 million is for flood mitigation, RM8.5 million is for other development projects and RM40 million for infrastructure projects.

“For 2020, the city council allocated RM55.8 million to prepare solid waste management infrastructure and RM11.36 million is allocated to install another 100 CCTVs and for the maintenance of all existing CCTVs,” he said.

This means MBPP’s expenditure will total RM769.796 million for 88 projects between 2015 and 2022.

Jagdeep said the council’s expenditure had increased by 291 per cent or RM196.391 million in 2019 as compared to 2005.

He said MBPP’s revenue each year were not enough to cover its expenditure, so it recorded deficits annually between 2016 and 2019.

MBPP recorded a deficit of RM1.4 million in 2016, RM98.6 million in 2017, RM76.45 million in 2018 and an estimated RM94.61 million in 2019.

On the mainland side, a huge chunk of the expenditure went towards flood mitigation and pump houses projects that costs RM11.17 million while RM10.58 million was spent on drainage system and infrastructure works.

A total RM6.68 million was spent on public facilities and safe city projects and RM2.55 million on landscaping works.

Jagdeep said MPSP allocated RM16.48 million for 54 projects in 2019 that included monsoon drain and retention pond maintenance (RM6 million), replacement of street lights to LED (RM3.3 million) and other infrastructure and safe city projects (RM6.68million).

The MPSP will be allocating RM169.74 million to implement 46 projects between 2020 and 2022.

The projects planned included construction of a new market complex in Jalan Jeti Lama (RM4.5 million), flood mitigation project at the Perai Industrial Estate (RM50 million), installation and maintenance of CCTVs (RM2.5 million), cyber counter and call centre (RM4.85 million), construction of a convention centre in Bandar Perda (RM30 million), upgrading of sport complexes (RM20 million) and landscaping works (RM1.65 million).

MPSP will have spent a total RM219.95 million for 206 projects between 2015 and 2020.

The expenditure for MPSP has also increased when compared to 2005, by about 784 per cent or RM107 million compared to 2019.

The council, which will be declared a city council on September 16, had recorded deficit budgets of RM24.19 million, RM17.03 million and an estimated RM24.76 million in 2016, 2017 and 2019 respectively. It only recorded a surplus of RM5.81 million in 2018.

The Penang state government announced a review of the assessment rates next year by both councils recently while stating the depleting funds at both councils as the main reason for the review.

While the state did not reveal the percentage of increase, Penang Gerakan claimed that it had received complaints from ratepayers that the rates had increased by up to 60 per cent.

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