GEORGE TOWN: A PKR state assemblyman has asked the DAP-led state government to come clean on the updated amount of funds collected from developers for the purpose of drainage and mitigation projects in the state.
PKR’s Penanti assemblyman Norlela Ariffin’s concerns follows claims funds collected were under-utilised or not being used
She told the New Straits Times that a proper breakdown on how much went in or went out of the fund must be revealed.
In Penang, all developers are required to contribute RM50,000 per acre to the local government for drainage and flood mitigation projects.
“The concern is that the funds are not being utilised to solve the flash flood problems in the Seberang Prai area. For example, in my Penanti constituency alone, there are nine flood-prone areas that could greatly benefit from these funds,” she was reported as telling the New Straits Times.
The Auditor-General’s Report 2016 Series 1 recently revealed that the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) had only used RM2.2 million of RM63.39 million collected between 2008 and June 2016.
The council was supposed to hand over all the funds yearly to the state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID).
Norlela also told the English daily that she had asked numerous times previously about the fund, and was told that the money was being held in the council’s account due to a “technical issue”.
“They said that the money was channeled from (the council’s) account to the trust account periodically. However, it was not revealed what the money was used for so far and how many flood mitigation projects were paid for using the funds,” she said.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad had also last week raised the same issue, hitting out at the council for not handing over the funds meant for drainage and flood mitigation.
Audits, he said, showed the funds were supposed to be given to the DID, whose director would later use it at his discretion.
“Because of the failure on the council’s part to hand over the funds to DID, many flood mitigation projects in the Seberang Prai area have been stalled, worsening flood problems each time it rains.
“In 2016 alone, four places in Seberang Prai Tengah were hit by flash floods 21 times,” Farid was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, Norlela claimed she had been asking for funds to improve drainage in Penanti, but had not been getting the actual amount to ease the problems.
“I get funds but for small projects, which I am very grateful for, but projects that cost more than RM500,000 are usually delayed due to lack of funds.
“For example, I am asking for some RM1.4 million now (for a project) in Kubang Semang, which would greatly help with reducing flooding in the area but have yet to receive the funds for the project,” she told NST.
She said some of the flood mitigation projects, which cost more than RM1 million, could even take years before the funds were released.
“One such project is the Tanah Liat flood mitigation project, which was first announced in 2014, but was delayed for the past three years.
“Recently, state Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said they were opening up for tender and that the project would start in October,” she added.