Local councils adopt plan to serve rakyat better

PUTRAJAYA: All states, including those under the Opposition, have agreed to adopt a Federal Government initiative that will see drastic changes made to the way the public and local authorities deal with each other.

They agreed to adopt the plan, aimed at improving the local councils’ delivery system, transparency and accountability, at the National Council for Local Government meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday.

“With all the improvements planned, the results that we are looking for are better living conditions for the people.

“We also hope this will result in the rakyat having more confidence in the government,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said after chairing the meeting, which was also attended by mentris besar and chief ministers.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Penang and Selangor had agreed to the initiative as they were aware that the people had bigger demands.

“We are pleased to get the commitment of all state governments to allow the ministry to engage aggressively with their local governments so that we can not only help improve services, but also get the people to better understand and be more involved in the local authorities’ affairs,” he said.

About 70% of the Malaysian population live under the administration of 149 municipalities nationwide.

The transformation plan, which is expected to take a year to be put in place by local governments, entails developing and managing the workforce, boosting service and efficiency, strengthening finances, improving the people’s wellbeing and encouraging public involvement and effective communication.

“We also want local governments to hold town hall meetings so they can interact with the public,” he said.

“We want future town halls to be a session for both parties to throw ideas around on how to improve services and quality of life of those living in the particular municipality.”

Soon, he added, local governments would also make its finances and revenues public so that the people would know how their taxes were spent to prevent allegations of abuse.

“If the collection is small, then local governments can present their case to the people on why they need to increase taxes or rates, or why certain services are not efficient.

“From there, both parties can work on how the situation can be improved,” said Abdul Rahman.

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