GEORGE TOWN, Oct 14 -- The Penang government was today urged to cut the salaries and allowances of the Chief Minister and executive councillors as a saving measure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin said the move was also an alternative to the use of the state’s accumulated savings (reserves) to finance the projected deficit of RM403.80 million in the 2021 Budget.
He said the use of the accumulated savings to finance the budget deficit was a bad trend if the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges lasted until 2021 and 2022.
“Saving measures should be sought to enable this excess expenditure to be borne but the use of the remaining savings of RM1.07 billion as of 2018 is an unhealthy move," he said during the debate session on the Supply Bill and Estimated Development Expenditure for 2021 at the State Assembly which took place at Dewan Sri Pinang here, today.
The state government is also urged to take different approaches including obtaining loans from financial institutions or cooperating with the Federal Government in ensuring that state finances remain stable and strong in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For financing mega projects such as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project for example, can be offered to government-linked companies (GLCs) such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Retirement Fund (Incorporated) and Investment Properties Limited.
“These efforts will also indirectly increase domestic investment,” he said.
Afif also explained that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government has never sidelined the Penang government as alleged by some parties, instead the government under the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has approved a RM2.95 billion allocation for the state.
He said the allocation through the Prihatin Rakyat (People Concerned) Economic Stimulus Package (Prihatin) and the National Economic Regeneration Plan (PENJANA) as announced by the Federal government had before this benefited more than 600,000 Penangites.
"Therefore do not be angry if one or two big projects in the state are delayed because what the people need right now is how to find income, continue businesses and send their children to school," he said.
The Penang state assembly sitting continues tomorrow.
Malaysian National News Agency
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