Ratepayers want their input given weight by MBPJ when drafting upcoming plans

  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 12 Sep 2019

RATEPAYERS are growing weary of the budget meetings called by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) for residents to share their views on how the city’s budget should be spent, because it always seems to come to naught.

The stakeholders feel their input is “meaningless” and that the council had decided the budget plan but calls for meetings merely to appease taxpayers.

StarMetro spoke to several Petaling Jaya community leaders about the budget planning meetings organised by MBPJ.

MyPJ chairman Jeffrey Phang called the meetings for residents a “show.”

“I have attended these meetings for over seven years and not once were we given any feedback about the suggestions made,” he said.

Phang noted that MBPJ had not implemented a budget monitoring committee, adding that this committee would ensure the money was well spent according to the calendar year.

“The information shared during these meetings feels incomplete.

“For example, if a sum has been allocated in the previous year’s budget for development, we want to know what was done so that we can suggest better plans for the upcoming years,” said Phang who suggested a theme-based budget.

“The city council can perhaps have a theme, such as ‘caring society’ for the chosen year, and channel more funds based on that.

“For another year, it can be centred on traffic management. This will enable the council to have a better focus for the budget,” he said.

Section 6 Rukun Tetangga president Rajesh Mansukhlal said he was fed up with attending the pre-budget meetings because there were no paramaters set for the sessions.

“These meetings may be exciting for new resident leaders but as an old-timer, I am fed up.

“We want MBPJ to tell us if what we suggested can or cannot be included in the Budget, and give us a reason why it cannot be implemented.

“Otherwise it is just a waste of time as most of us have to set asise precious hours to attend these meetings,” he said.

Rajesh also queried why the council’s Engineering Department’s 60 years of experience and expertise were not reflected in the city’s road planning.

“The traffic problem in Jalan Gasing and Jalan Templer has been around for a long time but until today the nightmare situation in these areas during peak hours does not seem to have a long-term solution.”

Rajesh said the bottleneck from the Templer roundabout to Assunta Hospital had existed for many decades, even after it had been turned into a traffic-light junction, and a permanent solution was still not in sight.

“It is hard for Section 6 residents to travel from our neighbourhood to New Town during rush hour and this issue needs to be addressed,” he added.

SS20 Rukun Tetangga chairman Eileen Thong said information on the proposed budget should be disseminated to the attendees a few days before the meeting.

“Residents are unable to grasp the details all at once and provide good suggestions on the spot.

Petaling Jaya residents say roads should be resurfaced regularly as if ignored, repair works will cost more. — FilepicPetaling Jaya residents say roads should be resurfaced regularly as if ignored, repair works will cost more. — Filepic

“We want to be participatory and not just sit and watch the slide shows filled with a lot of information,” she said.

Thong welcomed the online pre-budget survey – carried out for the first time last year by MBPJ – to gather public opinion for budget planning.

However, she said the system was not user-friendly and many residents were unable to use it.

Section 14 (Jalan 14/1 to 14/15) Residents Association chairman Selva Sugumaran said the city council currently relied on information provided by councillors for budget planning.

While some councillors would go to the grassroots to gather input, he said others did not.

“I feel that over the years the city council has been allocating more money for newer areas, compared to older ones.

“But new development approval is given for areas surrounding older neighbourhoods such as ours.

“As a result, our access roads face congestion and the public infrastructure is deteriorating.

“No one from MBPJ has come to my neighbourhood to determine if our roads can be widened.”

Selva also highlighted the problem arising from city council approvals given to houseowners to turn their single-storey houses into double storeys.

“There is nowhere for them to park their extra vehicles except on the road, so fire engines cannot access some of the roads because the parked cars are obstructing the way.

“I hope the city council will

provide sufficient budget allocations for older neighbourhoods too,” he said.

Bandar Utama Residents Association chairman Syed Mohd Taufik said the public budget meetings were meaningless if details given to residents were inadequate.

“We are aware that only 60% to 65% of the budget allocation is used up over the past few years.

“Who is monitoring MBPJ’s project implementation mechanism? This must be explained to residents,” he said.

Syed Mohd said the budget spending must be monitored as his neighbourhood had seen numerous problems when projects were carried out.

“We have eight units of faulty air-conditioners in the MBPJ hall in our neighbourhood. These new air-conditioners became faulty within a month after they were installed in November 2018,” Syed Mohd said.

“We need competent councillors who can help monitor and solve these issues.

“This year our assemblyman’s office has asked for feedback on what we would like to see in MBPJ’s 2020 Budget; we will give our views,” he said.

Section 10 Residents Association president Ronald Danker said he too felt the city council-hosted meetings with residents for budget planning were a waste of time.

“There should be a budget allocated for maintenance works.

“Several years ago, MBPJ built a parking lot connected to the Taman Jaya park. There are potholes appearing on some parts of this road, so it is time to resurface it. If it is ignored, the facility will not last and the repair works will cost more,” he said.

Danker hoped MBPJ would do a survey and gather input from residents before presenting its Budget plan.

Meanwhile, Esham Salam from SS7 Lengkuk Golf Residents Association is calling for the Petaling Jaya mayor to attend such meetings.

“The mayor should get feedback directly from community leaders.

“Without his involvement, this exercise is a token gesture which is held just to tick a box,” he said, adding that community leaders got tired repeating themselves at every MBPJ budget planning meeting.

Esham also asked for the allocation to be increased for food court and wet market refurbishment instead of just cosmetic improvements.

When contacted, mayor Datuk Mohd Sayuthi Bakar said there would be a round of meetings held by MBPJ with residents and non-governmental organisations soon.

When asked about the public’s unfavourable reaction to the meetings’ outcome, Sayuthi said it was impossible to please everyone.

“We must understand that there are constraints while preparing the Budget.

“Priority will be given to the committed expenditure such as maintenance and existing contracts.

“Furthermore, based on our projection, there will not be much of an increase in next year’s revenue due to the current economic situation,” he said.
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