THERE is a need for impactful projects that address the safety and security concerns of Petaling Jaya residents, said SS7 Lengkuk Golf Residents Association deputy chairman Esham Salam.
“Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) needs to recognise that security is the number one concern for many Petaling Jaya residents.
“The council has to take responsibility in security issues and not pass the buck to the police, state or Federal governments.
“The RM765,000 allocated for closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras isn’t enough.
“Intangible programmes such as campaigns and social activities are unnecessary; the funds allocated for this should be used to purchase more CCTV cameras or other tangibles to boost the safety of the city,” said the engineer.
Esham, who is a member of the My Petaling Jaya (MyPJ) community effort, was commenting on MBPJ’s 2017 Budget that was announced last week.
MyPJ is a grouping of 18 non-governmental organisations, professionals and residents’ representatives set up to tackle issues and make Petaling Jaya a sustainable city.
Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said RM139.89mil would be allocated for next year’s development expenditure, marking a 128% increase compared to current budget.
He said the priority would be on upgrading infrastructure and public facilities (RM48.96mil), upgrading landscape and recreational facilities (RM34.61mil), increasing the quality of city cleansing and health services (RM74.13mil), and improving safety as well as social aspects (RM5.9mil).
Esham felt that there was a need to adjust the allocation and focus on projects that would directly benefit the people.
“Looking at the current state of our markets and food courts, the RM2.7mil allocated for their upgrades is not enough.
“I do not need new garbage bins so the RM7mil to buy bins can go towards making cleaner and better markets and food courts,” he said.
Esham stressed that MBPJ’s 2017 Budget should be adjusted to make Petaling Jaya a more liveable, world-class city.
Friends of Kota Damansara chairman Jeffrey Phang said there was a need for better accountability and transparency in the preparation, monitoring and implementation of MBPJ’s Budget.
“We suggested about five years ago that a budget monitoring committee be established and it was approved during former Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman’s time, but this has yet to be implemented,” Phang said.
He said MBPJ had a poor track record in its spending as the actual expenditure differed from the planned Budget and the council did not have a budget calendar.
“As at Sept 30, MBPJ has only spent 60% of its 2016 budget.
“That means the remaining 40%, or about RM100mil, is left to be spent for the remaining three months.
“Lack of proper planning leads to ad hoc expenditure and unnecessary programmes,” he added.
Phang questioned the unspent RM1.4mil allocated for ICT under MBPJ’s 2016 budget, which he said was a missed opportunity that could be used to upgrade the council’s complaint system.
The trained accountant, who is also a member of MyPJ, described MBPJ’s 2017 Budget as a “budget by ambush” as councillors and residents’ representatives had insufficient time to analyse it prior to its announcement.
“The notes we were given were incomplete. Even with the breakdown in figures, there were some elements missing and figures that did not tally.
“There is also the question of how many councillors went to their respective Residents’ Representation Council to get feedback on what ratepayers need,” he pointed out.
While welcoming additional expenditure for infrastructure projects, Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San said what was more important was the monitoring and progress reports, especially for projects that involved large sums of money.
“Transparency in planning and implementation is pertinent. That is what is lacking in the current system, but it is not difficult to overcome. Officers have to spend more time on the ground.
“For example, taxpayers should be able to download and browse all the technical requirements and bills of quantity on every single infrastructure project,” said Lau.
Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv expressed a similar concern regarding MBPJ’s quality of delivery.
“All projects that are implemented must be of high quality, so we get something that lasts and is appreciated by the public.
“The project must be executed well, and implemented in such a way that it benefits Petaling Jaya residents,” he said.
PJ Utara MCA chairman Tan Gim Tuan questioned how much of MBPJ’s 2017 Budget came from the Federal Government, which would have allocated funds for transportation and park-and-ride facilities.
“Infrastructure in Petaling Jaya is not up to mark; some projects such as the one-way loop are absolutely unnecessary.
“The quality of life for the people of Petaling Jaya has deteriorated over the past 10 years.
“MBPJ is not doing its job properly,” he said, adding that residents’ health and safety were not cared for.
Tan said the council was answerable to Petaling Jaya folk as the money spent comes from ratepayers.