GEORGE TOWN: Gerakan has urged the Penang government to come clean on how much of the state’s landbank has been sold off, to date .
Gerakan vice-president Datuk Baljit Singh said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow must disclose how much of state land in Penang had been sold off since the DAP assumed power in 2008 as well as the full sum of monies collected from these sales.
He also expressed concern that Penangites may not be aware of the amount of land belonging to them that had been disposed of by the DAP government.
“Now that the chief minister has openly told the state legislative assembly that the government plans to sell its landbank by tender as one of the ways to increase state revenue, he is duty-bound to come clean on other concerns as well.
“Since 2008, we have been plagued with increased water rates, increased assessment rates, quit rent hike, needing to pay more in parking summonses, and of late, a proposed 500 per cent hike on plastic bags!
“How can the state claim it is experiencing a deficit budget (when they collect all these)? Perhaps, in the name of being competent, accountable and transparent, the state should open its accounts to public scrutiny,” he said today.
It was reported that Penang would sell state land at market price via open tender in order to raise revenue.
Chow, in his winding up speech at the state legislative assembly on Monday had said the move was to manage the deficit budget tabled for 2021.
With the move, he had said, the state would not have to cut into its consolidated reserve funds.
Baljit also asked what was Penang’s total undeveloped landbank at the moment.
“Irrespective of whether it is residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural land, where are these plots located and what is the acreage? The chief minister should also reveal if the state has plans to sell off the reclaimed land off Gurney Drive and how much of land will be sold off and how would the sold land be utilised.
“It is irrelevant that the state plans to sell its land via open tender or otherwise. What is more critical now is to establish whether the DAP-led state government has or has not been selling off state-owned assets, like land, since 2008.
“It is pointless in harping about (not having enough land) and the state constantly finding it a challenge to provide housing for the needy, when it it is actually sitting on good pieces of land that should and can be allocated for social housing,” he added.
The prolonged Covid-19 global pandemic, Baljit added, was a good time for Penang to review its priorities to its people, by seeing to their basic needs, including the provision of affordable housing.
He stressed that the state must put a stop to selling off its valuable landbank at this time to parties who are intent on building more pricey housing options which no one needs.
“Deficit budget or not, please do not pawn our precious state-owned land parcels in the name of boosting the state’s coffers. ‘Selling’ our sea via land reclamation and carving out and cutting into our hills is bad enough.
“But selling off Penang land which is the legacy of its residents to future generations is simply not acceptable,” he added.