Guan Eng’s numbers don’t add up, says Gerakan man

Liang-Teck-MengPETALING JAYA: A Gerakan leader is stumped with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s explanation that the sale of land has not been a contributor to the state’s surplus accumulated over the past eight years.

Referring to Lim’s statement yesterday, that Penang’s record annual budget surpluses, which had added up to RM574 million over eight years, had not been due to the sale of land, Gerakan secretary-general Liang Teck Meng wondered if there was some “special maths” that his DAP counterpart had been using to reach such a conclusion.

“In recent months, he had disclosed in the state assembly that the 100% Penang government-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC) had sold at least RM1.94 billion worth of land whereas the state government had sold RM760 million worth of land.

“Lim had also admitted that the sale of Bayan Mutiara state land in 2011 for RM1.07 billion was also directly credited into the Penang state govt accounts,” Liang said, adding that the total sums from the land sales mentioned already disprove Lim’s explanation.

The Simpang Reggam (Johor) MP turned the tables on Lim, over the latter’s admission that the state’s annual operating expenditure jumped almost three-fold from RM283 million in 2008 to RM826 million in 2015, questioning how any surplus could be derived under such circumstances.

“Lim even disclosed that the expenditure would jump to RM980 million in 2016 and RM1.35 billion in 2017, which would mean a staggering 500% increased in yearly spending compared with 2008.

“So, if the additional revenue to fund this explosion in state spending did not come from the sale of state land or assets, perhaps Lim can explain in detail how the Penang state govt found the revenue to fund this three- to five-fold increase in expenditure while still registering a RM574 million accumulated surplus?” Liang asked.

In yesterday’s statement, Lim had dismissed his political opponents’ claim that Penang’s surpluses were due to land sales by saying that there had been only RM658 million worth of land sales since 2008 and of which RM500 million had gone into the state’s public and affordable housing fund.

“The state government has received a total revenue of RM4.9 billion since 2008. Land sales revenue since that year amount to RM658 million, or 13%, of the total state revenue.

“From the RM658 million, the state allocated RM500 million to the public and affordable housing fund to build low-cost, low-medium cost housing priced below RM300,000.

“In other words, since 2008, only RM158 million contributed to the accumulated surpluses of RM574 million,” the Penang CM had said.