Sunday, April 13, 2008

Penang to make auditor’s findings public, says Lim

(STAR) BUTTERWORTH: The findings of the private auditor into the financial status of Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP), whose reserves fell from RM229mil in 2000 to just RM25.6mil at the end of 2007, will be made public.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the public had the right to know how the council’s reserves had come down.

If the municipal council had built a lapangan terbang (airport) here, perhaps we can understand.

But, there is no lapangan terbang and yet the money could terbang (fly),” he said.

Lim said those who were not involved in any mishandling of funds need not fear as the auditing process was merely aimed at improving the council’s performance.

But the guilty ones who took public money and became very rich will be investigated,” he said when opening Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Tanasekharan’s service centre in Jalan Bagan Luar here yesterday.

He said the new state government was worried the council would be broke by the end of the year.

Lim said many expected the new state government to continue helping the people with big projects, but that would not be possible when there were no more reserves.

If there are disasters, we will definitely help the people. But to come up with projects, we must look at our financial situation first,” he said.

On April 1, state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the council, with an accumulated deficit of RM226mil over the last eight years, had been scraping the bottom of the barrel.

On April 4, former councillor Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan said large portions of the council’s reserves were spent on the State Stadium in Batu Kawan (RM110mil), the council’s headquarters (RM83mil), Dewan Milenium (RM24mil) and the Central Seberang Prai district sports complex (RM12.8mil).

Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris said the council could have retained high reserves if it had asked for federal funds to build its headquarters and a district sports complex.

Sungai Dua assemblyman Datuk Jasmin Mohamed called for the council to tutup kedai (close shop) and hand over its duties to the state government if it was incapable of handling its finances.

He said the council’s land administrative duties should also be surrendered to the three district offices in Seberang Prai.

Meanwhile, Lim has invited former deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah to discuss matters pertaining to alleged land discrepancies.

Abdul Rashid, who is also the former chairman for state Land Affairs and Land Development Committees, had last week denied knowledge of allegations made by the present state government.

Lim also said he was still waiting for former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to meet him to discuss matters pertaining to the previous state administration.

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