Task force to finalise payment for fishermen affected by PSR


GEORGE TOWN: Ex-gratia payments for fishermen affected by the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project is being finalised under the project’s Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP), says Zairil Khir Johari (pic).

The state Infrastructure and Transport Committee chairman noted the state was concerned for fishermen affected by the PSR project and set up a fishermen task force committee to formulate and implement initiatives that will benefit the fishing community.

“We hope that fishermen can progress and enjoy the development brought by the project. The task force will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman.

“We are in the midst of refining initiatives, mitigation measures and also the implementation of the SIMP mechanism. Under it, the state is finalising an ex-gratia package for the fishermen, which includes three packages.

“The Life Assistance package includes ex-gratia payments and monthly allowances for the fishermen. The empowerment package involves the building of a new fishing jetty, fishermen co-op, tuition and education schemes for fishermen’s children and training schemes for fishermen and their children, besides creating job opportunities for those who are qualified.

“Fishermen will also be given priority for registering affordably owned houses with the hope of helping fishermen who do not own their own houses yet, ” he said in response to a question raised by Goh Choon Aik (PH-Bukit Tambun) in the State Assembly yesterday.

Zairil added that the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) financing model has always been through the sale of reclamation land from the PSR project.

“The project delivery partner, SRS Consortium, is in the process of improving the structure of the financial architecture, which should take into account the state of economic unrest due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other current factors.

“Therefore, the implementation schedule of PTMP project will be finalised after the financial architecture is agreed by the state government, ” he said.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the task force was formulating the package and finalising the details.

“We have consulted the state Fishermen Association and relevant agencies.

“We will be meeting with the association members and representatives personally in the coming months.

“It could be as early as next month, ” he said.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said they were still working on the total amount but it could be between RM50mil and RM60mil.

Meanwhile, state Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state government would monitor the impact of Covid-19 before deciding on the assessment rate next year.

“This year, the rebate cost the city councils RM47.3mil in collections.

“We will see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the coming months and take into consideration the people’s burden before deciding as they are our main concern.

“The local councils need money to execute their projects as well.

“They (the local councils) have approached the state government informing us of the impact they will face due to the reduction in assessment tax.

“The state government will consider giving grants to both city councils due to the major cuts in assessment tax, ” he said.

Jagdeep was responding to an oral question by Lee Khai Loon (PH-Machang Bubuk) on how the local councils would manage due to the rebate, as assessment tax was their main source of income.

“We will consider offering grants to both the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Prai City Council due to the loss in funding from assessment tax.

“Due to the assessment rebate this year, both councils would only receive RM19.5mil and RM27.8mil respectively.

“The increase in assessment rates were discussed and approved pre-Covid-19, ” he said.

Over 600,000 ratepayers in Penang received a rebate on assessment rate this year.

The state had announced an assessment rate review last year where annual value of properties were adjusted to reflect the current values while the actual assessment rates were reduced.

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