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Report: Penang’s main coffers plunged by RM825m over past 4 years, Guan Eng expresses concern

Publish date: Tue, 28 May 2024, 03:44 PM

FORMER Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has expressed concern over the state’s financial health after the state government’s main account balance had plummeted by RM825 mil over the past four years, from RM1.15 bil in 2019 to RM330 mil in 2023.

The Air Putih assemblyman said the state’s financial health could be improved by reinforcing efficient, accountable, and transparent (CAT) governance values to enhance Penang’s finances.

“This is to ensure that Penang escapes a fiscal deficit trap,” the Air Putih assemblyman said in debating a motion of thanks to the governor at the state assembly on Tuesday (May 28).

Lim said applying CAT would have benefitted the state in the controversial Batu Kawan land deal.

He further noted that open tenders were the best practice after Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow revealed to the state assembly yesterday that Penang had netted 21% higher in the sale of the land.

Yesterday, the state assembly heard that a 559-acre plot of land in Byram, Batu Kawan, fetched RM780 mil through open tender, compared to a directly negotiated deal of RM646 mil which was later cancelled due to public pressure.

“This open tender process clearly benefitted Penang by an extra RM134 mil,” Lim said.

He also cited issues related to the Gurney Bay development project, where costs went up from RM175 mil to RM247 mil due to poor oversight and planning.

Lim went on to pan Penang Development Corporation’s tax management, noting that its tax payments had surged from RM5.8 mil between 2008 and 2017 to RM204 mil between 2018 and 2022.

According to Lim, better tax planning was needed to free up funds for critical development projects, including resolving the water supply issues plaguing Batu Kawan and Sungai Bakap.

In his speech, Lim criticised the Penang Water Supply Corporation for its inefficiencies and high tariffs which he linked to repeated water supply disruptions.

He also called for Penang to echo Selangor’s pledge of RM65 mil to set up a high-end technology park with focus on integrated circuit design, as well as a special financial zone in the state, akin to Johor’s Forest City, to spur economic growth. - May 28, 2024

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