Penang govt lends a hand to cash-strapped MPSP

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BUKIT MERTAJAM: The state government has come to the aid of the cash-strapped Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) to buy much needed equipment and funding for facilities.

The MPSP saw a depletion of almost RM230 million from its reserves from 1999 to 2005 due to excessive spending, leaving it with almost no funds to even pay its employees. It will receive among others, two trucks, specialised MPVs, desludging machines, garbage trucks and also funds to maintain its facilities.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who chaired a meeting with the heads of departments at the MPSP headquarters at Bandar Perda, said the state government will help finance important and necessary expenditure.

"The MPSP is bogged down by its lack of resources and budget constraints and the state government will help the council to tide over certain expenditures.

"We will come in and buy the necessary equipment and also enhance MPSP's maintenance of facilities so that the services are not affected.

"The dire situation faced by MPSP will not be repeated as now, there are open tenders unlike the previous practice of exorbitant payments being made without tenders being called.

"All this loss of money was for certain individual benefits but never benefited the ratepayers, but we will not let that happen again," Lim said at a press conference.

MPSP covers an area of 738 square kilometre while the Penang Island Municipal Council's area of jurisdiction on the island is 291 sq km with the population of Seberang Perai being 790,100 and on the island 678,700.

Lim said despite its area of jurisdiction being much larger than the MPPP, the staff strength of MPSP was only 2,024 while the MPPP has 3,658 workers.

Lim said for 2010, MPSP has budgeted an expenditure of RM161.51 million while MPPP has budgeted RM270.02 million.

MPSP is expected to earn RM150.19 million and MPPP RM230.06 million, leaving MPPP with a deficit of RM11.32 million and MPSP RM39.96 million.

Despite the limitations and shortfalls faced, Lim said the MPSP has managed to implement a customer complaint response system which has been emulated by MPPP and the Alor Gajah municipal council.

"Next month, a delegation from all the municipal councils in Selangor will be visiting the MPSP to check on the system for possible implementation in their respective municipalities," Lim added.