THE Penang government has granted Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Penang’s request to allow the exemption of 3% approval fee on global investors until June this year.
State Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state government had reviewed and considered the application by Rehda Penang; and the state allowed the exemption or moratorium to be extended until June.
“Our initial decision in the state executive council (exco) meeting was to only allow it for a month, in February.
“However, Rehda Penang chairman Datuk Toh Chin Leong wrote me a letter under Rehda Penang, requesting us to review the period for the moratorium or the exemption of the 3% approval fee on global investors,” Jagdeep said in his speech during the Rehda Penang Chinese New Year Gathering Dinner 2019 celebration at G Hotel on Feb 20.
Jagdeep also said that the state would maintain the development charges imposed on property developers in Penang.
“I have been asked by Rehda Penang to review the various development charges imposed on property developers through the local councils.
“The review actually concluded late last year and the results may not be too positive. The councils were of the view that, at the very least, the development charges should be maintained.
“The councils have ‘some other ideas’ pertaining to the development charges.
“That was the result of the Review Committee that I chaired, and I decided to hold onto the result to get them to go over the decision.
“I had a final meeting with the Chief Minister last week, and the good news is we have decided to maintain and not increase the charges.
“That is the good news. It could have been worst,” he told Rehda Penang.
Jagdeep said that the state had to look at various factors before deciding on the request for the review.
“We have to look at the charges that were imposed on 2008, and the new charges that were imposed from 2008; which charges were increased from 2008 and how much each of them has increased from 2008.
“We also have to look at each of the charges that has been reduced. It is not that the state government has not reviewed those charges before.
“We have undertaken review exercises on those charges periodically. You cannot deny that.
“You have to be fair to the state,” Jagdeep said.
Jagdeep mentioned one of the major review exercises that the state had conducted – the hawker contribution.
“When I was first appointed as the state exco member in 2014, the hawker contribution charges was calculated based on the land price in the area; about RM80,000 per hawker stall on average.
“That was a big problem for you. We reviewed that to less than half the amount, to RM35,000 and last year we reviewed it again to RM28,000.
“There are many other examples where the state has conducted review exercises, especially where affordable housing project is concerned.
“We have taken out so many compliance costs for you to make affordable housing projects viable,” he added.
Jagdeep also said that talks were ongoing at the Federal level to come up with solutions to assist groups to access loans.
He told Rehda Penang that building affordable housing is ‘the way forward’.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would continue to ensure that the mandate given would be used to benefit the people of Penang.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that Penang continues to shine. The past 10 years have ups and downs and we took it all in stride.
“In better times, our profit is more and that builds up our reserve to meet the challenges of the not-so-good times.
“I think developers are astute business persons who can plan according to and ahead of the market situation.
“I share the optimism (of better years ahead) because we are looking at major efforts to improve the infrastructure of Penang.
“We are on the verge of securing the approval for our major transport plan.
“The first ‘road project’, which is the three major roads and undersea tunnel package under Zenith Construction, will hit the ground running on Aug 31.
“Whereas, for the SRS Consortium package, we are optimistic that approval will be granted within the first half of this year.
“That will definitely spur the construction sector and provide a lot of opportunities for companies in Penang that are associated with building and construction businesses,” Chow said.
Chow also said that plans with regard to digital transformation in Penang are shaping up.
“We are serious in growing Penang, to lay a stronger foundation for the state, and to bring it to the next level of development,” he added.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Alvie Cheng
Video by Chan Kok Kuan