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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More say in PJ budget

Writer: Gan Pei Ling 
Published: Fri, 14 Sep 2012, Selangor Times
PETALING JAYA: Residents here will be able to scrutinise the city council’s expenditure more effectively via an impartial budget monitoring committee to be set up next year.

Deputy Mayor Puasa Md Taib said the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has yet to decide on the details but the committee will definitely include representatives from residents’ groups.
“We want it to be independent,” he told community leaders during the presentation of the council’s 2013 draft budget at MBPJ headquarters on Wednesday.

The budget monitoring committee will be able to take local departments to task for failing to carry out projects allocated in the budget, said local councillor Derek Fernandez.

“For example, if your taman’s playground is supposed to be upgraded according to the budget but it was not done, the committee can question the department director(s) responsible.
“This will be a major breakthrough in public accountability. MBPJ is the first council to set up such a committee,” Fernandez noted.

Around 40 community leaders who attended the draft budget presentation welcomed MBPJ’s initiative to establish the independent monitoring committee.

D Rajendra, 73, from PJ Section 22, said such a move would increase public participation in the budget implementation process.

Jeffrey Phang, from the newly-established RA-RT Fellowship made up of 20-odd residents’ groups, suggested that MBPJ adopt best practices overseas such as from Brazil.

MBPJ divided the attendees into four groups to brief them on budget allocated for infrastructure development, green initiatives, cleanliness and social and community development respectively.

Meanwhile, MBPJ plans to double its development expenditure from RM22.8 million this year to RM51.7 million in 2013.

Fernandez said the 126 per cent increase in development expenditure is needed to upgrade public infrastructure and achieve the city’s vision of becoming a disabled-friendly metropolis.
Themed “PJ Care”, the city council’s 2013 draft budget came up to a total of RM317,662,200, more than the estimated revenue of RM295,736,110.

It is expected to incur a deficit of RM21.9 million next year but Puasa said the local government has about RM210 million in cash reserves, which is more than sufficient to cover the shortfall.

The bulk of the 2013 draft budget – 83.7 per cent – will go towards operating expenditure projected at RM266 million, a 3 per cent increase from this year’s RM258 million.

Meanwhile, Puasa said the council had spent RM137 million or 48.7 per cent of its RM281 million budget, excluding outstanding liabilities, as of August.

The council still has about RM92 million to be allocated for the remaining year.
He added that MBPJ has collected RM230 million or 81.7 per cent of its targeted income of RM281 million from tax and non-tax revenue this year. MBPJ tabled a balanced budget for 2012.

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