THE Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) should spend the over half-a-billion ringgit in its coffers from unspent budget allocations on projects that will benefit stakeholders.
A coalition comprising about 30 residents groups, non-governmental organisations and ex-councillors that called itself MyPJ, said the money should be used to improve cleanliness and upgrade facilities such as food courts and wet markets.
“Based on the council’s audited reports between 2011 and 2014, over RM500mil of approved budget allocations were not spent.
“The figure may be higher by now but we wouldn’t know because the council has not released the audited budget spending for 2015 and 2016,” said MyPJ spokesman Esham Salam.
He said there should be greater transparency for residents to follow through on how the money was spent or if it was used.
“Otherwise when the planned budget is not spent, the public is deprived of development in the city,” said Esham.
He added that the audited reports used to be made public through the council’s website.
“This stopped after Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman left,” said Esham during a press conference at the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism in PJS 8.
MyPJ spokesman Jeffrey Phang said instead of inviting the public for pre-budget dialogues, each area councillor should visit their respective neighbourhoods and discuss with residents what they required.
Councillors’ reports in collaboration with residents’ should then be submitted to MBPJ for budgeting purposes.
“Only then, when stakeholders attend budget planning meetings, can we see what the council has in store and give constructive feedback.
“We don’t want an overall budget without details on how the money will be spent. We would prefer if the council does a breakdown of the budget based on each councillor’s zone,” said Phang.
He added that MBPJ had not provided city councillors a preview of what was in store for Budget 2018.
“Councillors should attend these budget meetings with more specific information given.
“At the moment, even councillors are unaware of what is included,” said Phang, who anticipated that residents’ groups would be invited for a budget meeting by the end of the month.
Another issue MyPJ raised was local government elections.
Phang said there seemed to be a lack of interest to implement local government elections by the Pakatan Harapan-led government.
“When we elect councillors, they will be answerable to the community they represent.
“This will reflect in the budget planning and spending. However, now it seems councillors prioritise their political parties’ obligations first before the residents they represent,” he said.
Datuk Vincent Ng said the council should do a performance audit of all council projects. This was echoed by Gasing Indah Rukun Tetangga chairman Eric Chew.
He said residents groups were willing to assist the council to ensure projects are carried out according to the bill of quantity.
“Both residents and councillors do not know what the bill of quantity for any council-related projects is. In the past, we have had cases of shoddy workmanship for council projects such as pavements.
“This could have been prevented if the bill of quantity is made available to the area councillor,” said Chew.
Phang added that the council should be more accountable with its spending and cited the MBPJ crematorium which was under-utilised due to wiring issues.
“The council bought two burners for RM1.3mil in 2012 but both burners could not operate simultaneously. Only this month, it was reported that both burners are functioning after years of complaints.
“We never got an explanation on why for the past five years nothing was done to address the issue.
“We want more accountability by the council on how they spend the funds,” he said.