CM: Penang striving to reduce MPSP’s budget deficit

GEORGE TOWN: The Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) has been likened to a “healthy man ending up in intensive care unit.”

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who described the MPSP as “nearly insolvent”, said the state government was now trying very hard to reduce the council’s budget deficit and go through the auditor’s report.

No funds: Lim showing the council’s budget deficit report yesterday.

“Since we have zero funds, we have to see how we can cut costs and increase revenue for the MPSP.

“(Former State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman) Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan must come forward and face up to his failures.

“We can look at the documents but an auditor’s report does not tell you everything.

“We want to know why nothing was done about the budget deficit from 2000 to 2008? In 2001 the deficit was RM31,566,661 and by 2005, it was RM57,077,287.

“If Dr Teng speaks up, at least we can try to get some money back by retracing our steps. It is easy for him to ask us to forget the past and move on because it is not his money.

“The MPSP finances is like a healthy man who suddenly ends up in the intensive care unit (ICU) and is now on a drip.

“How did RM225mil just ‘disappear’ from the council’s coffers – it is better than David Copperfield’s magic!” he told newsmen during the state assembly break yesterday.

State exco member Phee Boon Poh said as former opposition leader, he had questioned the former administration on the 2004 auditor’s report.

“In a press conference in October 2006, I warned that the MPSP was on the verge of bankruptcy unless something was done.

“I questioned why the reserve funds were fast diminishing and recommended that expenditure for beautification works, maintenance and constituency projects and services be cut.”

Phee demanded that Dr Teng explain why the MPSP spent more than RM80mil to build its headquarters in Bandar Perda when a developer had offered to build it for free on a state land in Ampang Jajar.

On Sunday, Dr Teng said all local council budgets were deliberated and approved by a full council and state executive council before they were debated at the state assembly.

He claimed that Lim was trying to “embarrass” him .

Urging the Chief Minister to check the previous budget documents himself and “act immediately” if there were any improprieties, he said the DAP was in the previous state assemblies and had a chance to debate the budget.