GEORGE TOWN: The Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) has been told to hand over funds collected from developers to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) promptly, to facilitate the smooth implementation of flood mitigation and drainage projects.
State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said MPSP has been directed to hand over the accumulated funds to the DID before the end of this year.
He said MPSP had also been ordered to hand over the funds collected currently to the DID, every three months.
"The state government, DID and MPSP accept the reprimand from the Auditor General on the weaknesses in handing over of the funds.
"We have rectified the matter, and we want to stress that all monies collected are strictly used to implement flood mitigation and drainage projects and not for other purposes.
"It is also not true that monies from the funds have been misappropriated," he said today, responding to claims that failure by MPSP to hand over the funds to DID had stalled many flood mitigation projects in the Seberang Prai area.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad had pointed out that in 2016 alone, four areas in Seberang Prai Tengah were hit by flash floods 21 times.
MCA Youth treasurer Datuk Michael Lee had asked if the state government was so desperate for money that the much-needed funds to save lives and prevent hardship had to be withheld.
PKR’s Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin had called on the Penang government to reveal the latest numbers from the funds collected from developers to build drains and flood mitigation projects in the state.
The Auditor General’s Report 2016 Series 1 released recently revealed that MPSP had only used RM2.2 million of RM63.39 million collected from 2008 to June 2016.
The report also said that MPSP was supposed to hand over all the funds yearly to the DID; however, it had only paid RM400,000 per year to the DID and had kept the rest with the reason that the MPSP needed to manage its cashflow.
In Penang, all developers are required to contribute RM50,000 per acre to the local government for drainage and flood mitigation projects.
Chow said he regretted the claims made by the opposition, and assured that the funds were used for its specified reasons.
"For example, from 2008 until this year, we have approved RM176.9 million for flood mitigation projects although we only collected RM131.9 million.
"This shows our seriousness in tackling flood problems in the state," he said, adding that the state government had also approved a RM150 million allocation in the 2017 budget to implement nine high-impact mitigation projects.
Chow also took a potshot at Norlela, saying that as a member in the flood mitigation committee, she was privy to such information.