PETALING JAYA – Penang with its increasing number of debts is set to become a failed state, Barisan Nasional said.

Its Strategic Communications team said in a statement on Sunday that at the rate the state government was managing the state, the people “will be hit with further increases in charges, fines, state taxes and water rates to help the state government cope.”

“Over the past three years, Penang has increased assessment and quit rent rates, increased monthly parking rates, increased water rates four times, doubled the raw water extraction rates, increased the penalties for housing developers in lieu of affordable housing and increased fines for various municipal offenses,” it said.

The statement pointed out that the annual Penang Operating Expenses have steadily increased every year to 500% of what it was in the year 2008.

It said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, instead of answering to queries on the issue, had resorted to diversion and rhetoric.

The statement listed the queries which it said needed just a yes or no answer.

“Is it true that the Penang government has sold or traded away at least RM37bil worth of state land, land rights and assets since DAP took over in 2008? We are happy to provide a list of such deals for Lim to verify should he be interested to confirm or dispute.

“Is it true that there is not much state land left to sell as stated by Penang Exco Chow Kon Yeow last year?

“Is it true that the cost of the Penang Transport Masterplan Project has increased in price from RM27bil to RM46bil over the past year as stated by YB Chow Kon Yeow?

“Is it true that the Penang state government will resort to bank borrowings, possibly from China to make-up the RM19bil gap, of between RM27bil and RM46bil as was stated by Chow in his interview with The Edge last July?,” the statement said.

The statement also said that in the interest of transparency and accountability, the questions it raised are relevant to the very future of Penang and its people.

“If the answers to the above are all in the affirmative then it points to a bleak future for Penang and its people,” it added.

In response Chow said if Penang is a failed state, the Federal government should call for a general election as soon as possible and let the people decide.

“I think the Barisan Nasional’s strategic communications team’s statement is off the mark,” said Chow on Sunday.

“It’s the people who will ultimately decide if we are wrong, as such call the elections fast to decide who is right,” he added.

In May, Lim had announced that the state was taking a ‘small loan’ from China’s EXIM Bank and that it was only because of low interest rates and as recognition that Penang has good credibility and a sound financial standing.

When asked to comment, Barisan laughed off Lim’s boast and pointed out that in recent years, Zimbabwe was also given soft loans by EXIM Bank.