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Penang island city hall's 2019 budget strives for better quality of life, says mayor.

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will focus on improving infrastructure and amenities with its budget for 2019, said Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang.

He said the budget, which has a reduced deficit compared to this year, was themed 'Intelligent, Liveable and Happy City' and will aim to fulfill the council's objective of improving its quality of service.

'This budget focuses more on implementing projects to improve infrastructure and amenities for the people so that we can fulfill our vision of turning Penang into an intelligent, creative and healthy city steeped in heritage and culture,' he said when tabling the budget during the council's meeting today.

A deficit budget of RM94 million for 2019 was presented at the meeting due to higher expenditure for infrastructure and development.

Yew said the council was expected to record a total revenue of RM411.42 million as compared to the expenditure of RM506.03 million.

'This is a reduction in deficit by about 50 per cent as we tabled a deficit budget of RM189 million for this year,' he said.

In line with the budget's theme, he said funds will focus on five main areas: cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and public amenities and infrastructure.

A total RM263.91 million out of the expenditure was allocated towards projects under the five main areas of focus.

Yew said a total of RM73.73 million will be allocated for a cleaner city, including solid waste management, improving capacity building by strengthening the Local Action 21, cleaning works of public areas and maintenance of public toilets.

Out of the RM263.91 million, RM10.04 million will be allocated for a greener city in which the council will fulfill the state government's goal to plant 100,000 trees within five years.

'In the last 10 years, a total 363,665 trees were already planted around Penang,' he said.

He said the city council has allocated RM4.1 million, out of the RM10.04 million, for tree planting, landscaping works and upgrading of parks on the island.

'We plan to build seven neighbourhood parks and three pocket parks next year as part of the state's vision to turn Penang into a Garden City by 2020,' he said.

The council allocated RM12.38 million towards a safer city where it will introduce facial recognition as one of the functions of its CCTVs that were installed all around the Penang island.

'For a healthier Penang, we allocated RM5.22 million to organise sporting events such as City Walk 2019, City Ride 2019, Penang International Triathlon and Duathlon and Peace Run along with rebuilding the clubhouse at Jalan Perak that will cost RM3.68 million,' he said.

He said the council will also continue with weekly activities such as Hike On Thursday and Bike on Friday.

'We have also set aside RM250,000 to implement our Zero Stray programme to ensure that Penang is free from stray dogs,' he said.

The bulk of the allocation, or RM162.54 million (61.59 per cent), is for public amenities and infrastructure such as the implementation of an Integrated Local Council Solution, improvement of the council's online systems, development of a Geographical Information System and upgrading of market complexes, roads and other public infrastructure.

'We have also allocated RM4.7 million for restoration projects within the heritage zone such as restoring the Town Hall, continuing with the back lane beautification project and restoring of dilapidated heritage buildings,' he said.

The council will also allocate RM2 million for the annual month-long George Town Festival in 2019.

Yew said despite tabling a deficit budget for 2017 of RM176 million, the council eventually only recorded a deficit of RM98.61 million in 2017.

'The council has intensified its efforts to collect arrears in assessments rates from ratepayers and had collected RM15.75 million as at July this year,' he said.

He is certain the budget will fulfill the council's objective of improving its quality of service to be more effective and efficient.

'This budget focuses more on implementing projects to improve infrastructure and amenities for the people so that we can fulfill our vision of turning Penang into an intelligent, creative and healthy city steeped in heritage and culture,' he said.
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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Date:Sep 19, 2018
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