Dr Sim: Local authorities’ needs to be reviewed including increasing revenue, manpower

Dr Sim (third right) and Lo (second left) holding the oath document which they both signed.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, July 20: A review will be launched to explore local authorities’ needs and resources including increasing its combination of revenue for the provision of new services like public health and manpower, especially experienced engineers to manage many ongoing projects in order to strengthen the future of local governments in governing local affairs directly.

Given the increasing responsibilities and functions of local governments, Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian said he has asked his Deputy Minister Datu Penguang Manggil to relook at the needs of local councils holistically.

“This includes its organisation structure, councillors allowance, manpower and increasing its revenue for provision of new services like public health.

“In terms of manpower, local councils like MPP (Padawan Municipal Council) are in need of more experienced engineers as there are so many ongoing people’s projects being implemented but they cannot afford it,” he said.

The Deputy Premier highlighted this during the swearing-in ceremony for MPP chairman Lo Khere Chiang, deputy chairman Senator Dato Ahmad Ibrahim and 26 councillors whose terms have been extended until the end of the year at the MPP Headquarters here today.

With that, Dr Sim said he has tasked his permanent secretary to pull out a cabinet paper to enable the Ministry to employ engineers to be parked in local councils.

“Otherwise, local councils like MPP will be short of funding so we want to take away some of their headaches.

“There are 75,000 properties in MPP areas but the council only collected RM20 million in assessment rates. Rubbish disposal services have already incurred expenditures of RM9.8 million, while its total expenditure is about RM45 million,” he said.

Reminding that Sarawak is very fortunate as the State government is paying a lot in subsidies to alleviate the burden on people, he hopes the public can realise and treasure such benefits and privileges.

Looking at how MPP expenditure far exceeded its revenues but responsibilities will only increase, especially to carry out maintenance for existing and upcoming parks, waterfronts, sports facilities and other relative facilities, Dr Sim emphasised that it means there is a need to look at how and where revenues can be increased.

“Like Batu Kawah riverbank park, the maintenance is more than RM1 million a year. But we cannot request the public to pay to visit. The money obtained for development does not include maintenance.

“So we have to look at ways to increase revenues to support local councils in continuing to carry out their responsibilities including maintenance of facilities without burdening the residents to pay more,” he added. — DayakDaily