‘Stop pinching pennies’


ABOUT 11 community leaders and non-governmental organisations are unimpressed by the Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) budget spending trend.

They have called for more transparency and better public participation in the budget expenditure process.

They also urged the council to set up a budget monitoring committee that included residents to have greater oversight on how the money was spent.

Friends of Kota Damansara chairman Jeffrey Phang said the allocation for city development was too little compared to the total budget each year.

“It was reported in StarMetro last October that the council only spent 35% of the RM47.8mil allocated for development in infrastructure and other public amenities. We want a bigger allocation for city development in Budget 2015,” he said.

In 2012, he said MBPJ had allocated more than RM50mil for waste collection services but ended up spending over RM417mil.

“We want to know why there was such a large difference. If we had a budget monitoring committee, we would be able to better monitor the situation,” he said.

He urged the council to conduct a participatory budget this year where the views and needs of even the less vocal residents would be considered.

“About 40% of Petaling Jaya residents live in flats and there are many from the lower income group. The budget should take note of the needs in their neighbourhoods as well,” he said.

In October 2013, StarMetro reported mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad saying that she took full responsibility for the poor spending of the allocation for the year.

In the report, she expressed her optimism that the allocation for the 2014 budget would be fully utilised in line with the theme “Sustainable Petaling Jaya”.

She was quoted as saying, “I take full responsibility... but next year (2014) is the year of action. We are not going to plan any more because we are over that stage.

“We are going to tender for projects in January next year,

“I want all departments to work on their bills of quantity as soon as possible. All plans should be finalised by December,” she had said.

Sahabat Taman Kelana Jaya secretary Esham Salam said it was still not too late for the council to spend the allocated budget for 2014 wisely and to plan for 2015 in a more organised manner.

“We are aware that the council has not appointed full-time cleaning contractors for the park’s upkeep.

“Our Kelana Jaya park was in bad shape until StarMetro highlighted the problems recently. I hope the council could speed matters up and utilise the balance of the budget for 2014 first,” he said.

With more traffic being brought to Petaling Jaya with the approval of many new developments, he hoped more funds would be allocated to facilitate the public transport infrastructure and facilities.

“We want more traffic light pedestrian crossings and bus stops at appropriate locations. “We also want the council to upgrade the food court in the city. This is done successfully in cities like Malacca.

“Emphasis should also be on upgrading wet markets and public parks,” he said.

The residents also want the council to present the income and actual expenditure statement for 2012, 2013 and 2014and the accumulated expenditure in 2014.

They also want to know what the MBPJ’s allocation for poverty alleviation, maintanence of public housing, traffic congestion, citizenship, education, public consultation engagement, e-aduan system, pedestrian walks, bus stops and food courts.

Deputy Petaling Jaya mayor Puasa Md Taib said the council always welcomed public feedback.

“We plan our budget based on public participation. Even today, we will have residents share their ideas on areas of their interest for the 2015 budget proposal.

“We have categories such as greenery where residents can tell us specially what they want in which park. I would say our budget is a participatory budget between residents and the council,” he said.

Puasa also reassured residents that they would give an explanation of how the council allocated its budget and officers would attend to their queries at today’s MBPJ Budget Planning meeting with residents.

Registered owners of properties in Petaling Jaya can also attend the meeting.