THE Penang government has projected a lower revenue next year after considering the ongoing Covid-19 impact.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that the state was very concerned with the people’s financial burden due to the pandemic.
“The state expects a revenue of RM485.42 million next year. The projected amount is 4.07% lower than the projected revenue of RM506.02 million this year.
Chow said that the state government is careful in formulating strategies to increase the state’s revenue next year.
“The low revenue projection next year is also contributed by reduced interest rates for fixed deposits and state investments.
“Although the collection of revenue for 2022 is limited, the Penang government still needs to prepare a Budget for 2022 which is tantamount to 2021.
“This is to ensure effective delivery of government services and projects, as well as to safeguard the wellbeing of the people,” he said when tabling the state’s Budget at the Penang Legislative Assembly building today.
Chow said the total projected operating expenses for 2022 was RM935.22 million, while the expected revenue was RM485.42 million.
“The deficit Budget of RM449.80 million will be supported by the state’s consolidated savings (reserves) (Consolidated Revenue Account) of RM887.78 million as of 2020 year-end,” he said.
Chow said the Penang government is optimistic that the state revenue could be increased with the economic recovery measures taken by the state and Federal Governments.
He also mentioned that the projected state’s development Budget for 2022 was RM316.13 million.
The 2022 Budget, themed ‘Accelerating Penang2030’, was chosen in line with the state’s intention to revive Penang’s economy post-Covid.
“Accelerating Penang2030 is based on three main initiatives – place-making initiatives, community-building initiatives and industry engagement initiatives,” he said.
In his speech, Chow said data from Socso’s MYFutureJobs showed an increase in labour demand in August and September this year.
“A total of 23,251 vacancies were advertised as at Sept 17, of which the manufacturing sector comprised 60% followed by the accommodation sector 12.4% and the transport sector 6.5%.
“In addition, a total of 55 manufacturing projects were approved in Penang for the first half of this year with an investment value of RM1.3 billion. These projects are expected to create 2,705 new jobs in the state,” he said.
Chow said that the state’s economy is expected to recover gradually next year.
“Tourism and hospitality activities are expected to recover at a modest growth rate supported by domestic tourism.
“A stable growth in the manufacturing sector, especially in electrical and electronics, managed to offset the challenging situation faced by the tourism and hospitality sectors.
“The Penang government will provide an allocation of RM50 million next year to revive the tourism sector.
“This allocation includes expenditure for tourism development projects, tourism destination promotion activities, grants to state subsidiaries and agencies that serve as tourism catalysts, as well as other related purposes,” he said.
Chow added that the state government would provide a management grant of RM11 million to Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) next year while the tourism sector recovers.
“Penang Hill was also affected by the movement control order and the closure of several economic sectors which were implemented to curb the COVID-19 infection.
“PHC has recorded a total of 780,106 visitor arrivals in 2020 as compared to 1,865,783 in 2019, a decrease of 58.2%.
“Visitor arrivals to Penang Hill this year have also declined where a total of 104,519 visitors were recorded in the second quarter of 2021 as compared to 301,795 visitors in the same period in last year,” he said.
He also mentioned that Penang Development Corporation (PDC) is developing two new industrial parks, namely Batu Kawan Industrial Park 2 and East Batu Kawan to support strategic investments in the state.
“The two industrial parks will provide a total of 1,500 acres of new industrial areas. The total size is larger than the current Batu Kawan Industrial Park.
“The two industrial parks will be developed in stages and are expected to start operating from 2023 or 2024,” he said.
On the state’s iSejahtera programme, Chow said that the programme would be continued next year and an allocation of RM50 million would be provided for that purpose.
“The iSejahtera programme is very close to the hearts of Penangites. The state’s contribution, in the form of annual and one-off aid, is given as a sign of appreciation and concern for the elderly, the disabled, single mothers and other categories,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Penang government would provide an allocation of RM13.95 million for the development and maintenance of public housing in Penang and another RM6.8 million for the Penang Maximum 80 percent Maintenance Fund (TPM80PP) next year.
Apart from that, the state government would also provide a management grant amounting to RM12 million to the Penang Housing Board next year.
The state would also allocate RM34.72 million to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) next year for river deepening and repair projects, agricultural irrigation and drainage, small drainage plans for irrigation, flood mitigation projects, coastal development, corridor development rivers, environmentally friendly drainage, reservoir ponds and other related projects.
Chow said that the state is committed to upholding Islam as the official religion of the Federation and to strengthen syiar Islam (Islamic glory) in Penang.
“The Penang government will allocate RM71.13 million for the development of Islam in Penang.
“These provisions include managing provisions for state departments related to Islamic religious affairs and development provisions for mosques, suraus, Islamic educational institutions, as well as the implementation of Islamic-based programs.
“The state, in collaboration with the Federal Government, has built many new mosques and upgraded mosques in Penang.
“Three mosques are expected to be completed next year, namely the al-Qahhar Mosque in Permatang Damar Laut, Masjid Jamek Sungai Puyu in Butterworth, and Masjid Jamek Perai in Perai.
“The state government also intends to make the Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque a District Mosque for the northeast district. The Penang Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JHEIPP) is currently improving the infrastructure of the mosque,” he said.
Chow added that a total of RM350,000 is also allocated next year for the success of the Gagasan Khaira Ummah programme.
“The state government is always concerned in maintaining religious harmony among the residents. We also offer basic services and facilities in helping the residents to practice religious affairs without any hindrance.
“One of the facilities provided by the state is to allocate 22 acres of land in the north Seberang Perai district worth RM17.654 million with basic infrastructure worth RM9.2 million.
“A total of 35 religious associations comprising Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and others have been considered.
“We expect several non-Islamic houses of worship (RIBI) to be developed and operated within the next two years,” he said.
Among other allocations listed in the state’s 2022 Budget were:
1. Gurney Wharf project = RM60 million
2. Skim Pinjaman Harapan = RM1 million
3. Penang Harmony Corporation = RM1.1 million
4. Village Community Management Council = RM9 million
5. Penang STEM 4.0 = RM630,000 annual grant
6. Penang Tech Dome = RM850,000 annual grant
7. Penang Science Cluster = RM680,000 annual grant
8. Penang i4.0 Seed Fund = RM1 million
9. Education assistance to Chinese, missionary, religious, and Tamil schools = RM13 million
10. Penang Forestry Department = RM2.2 million
11. Penang Botanic Gardens = RM1.22 million
12. General assistance under the Penang Social Welfare Department = RM8.2 million
13. Penang State Public Works Department and Penang Development Corporation = RM41.21 million
14. To encourage the use of public transport in Penang via BEST Komtar, CAT Bridge free bus service, Pas Mutiara and Penang ferry service = RM10 million
15. Taxi drivers and school bus operators = RM2 million
16. ‘Best! Anak Penang – Penang Young Talent Excellence Incentive Scheme’ = RM500,000
17. Nibong Tebal Arena = RM7 million
18. Development of sports and open spaces = RM13.471 million
19. Department of Agriculture Penang = RM6.25 million
20. Penang Veterinary Services Department = RM3.494 million
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad and Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar