Saturday, March 23

Sarawak hopes to receive federal grants for local councils like before


Datu Dr Penguang Manggil

KUCHING: Sarawak hopes to receive as much federal grants for local councils as before with Pakatan Harapan (PH) helming Putrajaya now.

Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil said Betong District Council received RM912,078 from the federal government while Sarawak government granted RM3.1 million to the council this year alone.

“However, with the new PH government holding the fort in Putrajaya, we are not very sure whether or not we will continue to receive as much grants from the federal government in the years to come,” he said when replying to a supplementary question raised by Gerald Rentap Jabu (PBB-Layar) yesterday.

Penguang, however, said he was confident that the PH members of the House ‘will not let us down’.

He said Betong District Council received grants from both federal and state governments for maintenance of roads and drains, minor infrastructure projects and Rural Transformation Projects.

Earlier, he said 20 out of the 23 local councils across Sarawak including Betong District Council were operating with a deficit budget last year.

He said the Ministry of Local Government and Housing had put in place the necessary control measures to ensure prudent financial management particularly with regard to project procurement and management.

Penguang added that the ministry had identified new sources of revenue such as increasing the oil palm levy, charging of oil and gas pipelines, dams and coal mines to increase their revenue base.

“To further enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the local councils, the ministry has done a major restructuring exercise which was approved by Public Services Commission of Malaysia in 2016 with a total number of 425 new posts including 22 new posts for Betong District Council.

“The ministry has also carried out Business Process Reengineering, computerisation and development of apps for a number of core business processes in order to improve its service delivery system for the local authorities,” Penguang pointed out.

He said all local councils, as the third tier of the government administration system, provide the same municipal services required under the law whether they are district, municipal or city councils.

These services, he said, included waste collection, cleanliness and sanitation, waste disposal, rating and valution, licensing of entertainment establishments, provisions and maintenance of public roads, markets, hawker centres, public parks, recreation grounds and libraries.

“It is very important that local councils have sufficient revenues to cover both its operation and development costs in providing these municipal services.

“Currently, the main sources of revenue for local councils are collection of assessment rates, fees, licensing, government grants and interests from various investments,” added Penguang.