PETALING JAYA – The Penang state government continues to mislead the people by using accounting tricks to paint a deceptive picture of its financial performance, said Datuk Liang Teck Meng.
The Gerakan secretary-general said he was shocked when Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng denied that the DAP-led state government’s total accumulated budget surplus of RM574mil since 2008 was due to the sale of state land.
“I provided various figures to prove that it (the surplus) was (from sale of state land) and asked him to teach me his ‘special maths’,” he said in a statement Monday.
Liang claimed that Lim seemed to have taken “great offence” at his revelation, proving that he had “hit the nail on its head” and exposed Lim’s lies.
Despite the personal attack, Liang said Lim’s figures had confirmed that the state government’s operating expenses had jumped three-fold between 2008 and 2015.
“This huge increase is set to continue and spending under the Penang budget for 2017 is expected to be five times the spending in 2008,” he said.
He also claimed that Lim misled the public again by saying that Penang Barisan Nasional had sold land reclamation rights for only RM1 per square foot.
“He appears to have forgotten that this RM1psf also comes with the condition that the developer has to hand over 10% of the reclaimed land back to the state government,” he said.
He claimed that the land is the same one sold by the state government to pay for the RM6.34bil Penang Tunnel project.
Liang also refuted Lim’s claims that the revenue generated from quit rent and other land fees had paid for the state’s spending.
“The Auditor-General’s report shows that quit rent revenues have remained static.
“It only grew from RM93mil in 2008 to RM104mil in 2015 – clearly insufficient to pay for the big jump in expenses,” he said.
Liang pointed to the tremendous growth in land premium payments – from RM19mil in 2008 to RM324mil in 2015 – which the Auditor-General explained came from land sales.
Additionally, Liang said that between 2010 and 2014, the state government had also closed various state trustee accounts, such as the “Low-Cost Housing Account” and the “Rural Water Supply Loan Project”.
From this, he said the state government transferred the balance to the state consolidated funds and recognised it as state revenues which amounted to RM240.19mil.
“Take out the land sales and accounting tricks on transfer of trustee accounts to recognise as state revenues, the Penang state government would have been in severe budget deficit every year since 2010.
“Instead of an accumulated surplus of RM574mil from 2008 to 2015, it would have accumulated a deficit of RM1.057bil,” he said.
Liang added that selling state assets “to fund soaring yearly administrative expenses” is not sustainable and akin to selling the family jewels.