GEORGE TOWN: A Penang Umno leader today demanded that the state government explain the red marks given by the auditor-general (A-G) for its use of money under the 2016 state budget.
Penang Umno liaison committee chief Zainal Abidin Osman said based on the A-G’s 2016 report, the DAP-led government had relied on revenue from the sale of state land to fund its operating expenditures (opex).
Since 2008, he said, Penang had used state land revenue to supplement the opex, which had gone up by 500%.
From 2012 to 2016, revenue from the land premiums was RM1,552.58 million, with land taxes and change-of-use premiums contributing another RM768.46 million, he added.
According to Zainal, the Penang government had earned RM2.3 billion in revenue from land sales alone.
“We are puzzled as to why the chief minister does not want to admit that land sale activity by the state government has been rife.
“This is despite repeated exposes by Penang Barisan Nasional (BN), and repeated citations by the A-G in past reports,” he said in a statement today.
Zainal said the Penang government had a penchant for not spending the money budgeted, as shown in the A-G’s recent report.
He said the report found that only 67.6% of the state development funds under the 2016 state budget had been used.
“The state government must answer why such a big sum was not spent.
“The A-G’s report also revealed a transfer of RM76.31 million from development funds to the state finance department’s trust fund. And this money is assumed to have been ‘spent’,” Zainal added.
He said more shockingly, there were several “sick projects” highlighted in the A-G’s report involving the Chief Minister’s Office and the State Secretary’s Office.
Sick projects are those experiencing delays greater than 30% of their scheduled progress, or projects whose sale and purchase agreements have expired.
“A total of 40 projects were cancelled, nine put on hold… Fifteen projects under the Public Works Department were also cancelled.
“This is proof that the state government has failed in planning and executing matters related to the development of the state. It is very disappointing for a government that claims to be competent, accountable and transparent,” Zainal said.