Penang asks for RM1bil

Chow (right) posing with state exco member Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain (PH-Batu Maung) at the state assembly held at Dewan Sri Pinang in George Town. — Photo from Buletin Mutiara

PENANG has called on Putrajaya to grant at least RM1bil in allocations to the state as it contributed 6.7% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow pointed out that this was a big chunk amounting to RM94.7bil of the total national GDP, or the fourth highest amount in the country.

‘’As such Penang should be given fairer Federal funding, ’’ said Chow in his winding-up speech at the state assembly sitting yesterday.

Chow quoted the figures from the Statistic Department’s 2019 Penang Economic Performance Report.

A large part of the RM94.7bil came from the services sector (RM48.7bil) and manufacturing sector (RM40.5bil).

The construction sector contributed (RM2.6bil), agricultural (RM2.1bil) and mining (RM200mil).

‘’However, the state has received only RM241mil in Federal funding this year.

“This funding includes yearly per capita contributions based on population, a RM15.1mil Covid-19 aid grant earlier this year and road repair funds.

“While we appreciate the Federal funding we have received, the allocation is not as much as our contribution to the country, ’’ he pointed out.

Chow also voiced his disappointment that the Federal government declined the state’s request for RM10bil funding to build its first Light Rail Transit (LRT) line.

He said the state had asked for the funding under the 12th Malaysia Plan for the Bayan Lepas LRT project but was ‘shot down’ by the Federal Government in a letter in June.

“While we have several ways to increase the state’s revenue, including through increase in assessment, quit rent and water rates, the state will not burden the people during this difficult Covid-19 period.

“However, the state is committed to presenting a comprehensive budget to ensure that the government machinery remains efficient with the people’s welfare in mind.

“The state’s development can be continued to achieve the Penang 2030 Vision.

“We are also mulling the idea of disposing of state land to the highest bidder through tenders rather than market value, which is being done now.

“This is to maximise our returns from such sales.

“The state has quite a number of dormant industrial land bank plots which will be disposed of by transferring to Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

“Through this, the state would continuously receive consistent income from quit rent to fill the state’s coffers, ’’ he said.

Chow said PDC had taken a RM551mil loan from CIMB Bank to open up industrial land and to expand its landbank in Batu Kawan East and Changkat Byram.

“The funding was used to carry out infrastructure works at the Bukit Minyak Industrial Park and Penang Science Park North.

“PDC has repaid RM38mil to CIMB, with a RM949mil credit availability.

“The state government had previously loaned RM679mil to PDC to expand its landbank and carry out infrastructure works and to date, the corporation had paid back RM277.7mil, ’’ added Chow.

The assembly also approved the state Budget 2021 of RM909.82mil with a majority vote.

The meeting was adjourned sine die.

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