No plans to hike assessment rate, says Padawan Municipal Council

Lo Khere Chiang

KUCHING, May 23: Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang says despite a tight budget, the council would not burden the people by increasing assessment rate.

MPP’s annual assessment rates collected, he added, totalled RM23 million, and the council’s expenditure on emoluments for 450 staff is RM19 million.

“Rubbish collection is RM7.9 million. Desludging services take up another RM2.5 million. Each year, we get RM2 million development grants from the state government to carry out drain and road improvements,” said Lo in a statement today.

If the council were to increase assessment rates to boost its development funds, the ratepayers would suffer, he reckoned.

“After GE14 (14th general election last year), making ends meet for our people is already hard enough. We do not want to burden them with further assessment rate increases. We try as far as possible to keep it as low as we possibly can,” he said.

Lo said this to rebut Sarawak DAP Socialist Youth publicity secretary Abdul Aziz Isa, who said that Lo should not expect the federal government to bear the cost of building Dewan Kampung Haji Baki and Hawker Centre that was promised by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who pledged RM1 million in allocation in 2016.

Aziz suggested that Lo should build the two facilities by using the ratepayer’s money or request financial assistance from the Sarawak government.

Lo, in return, urged Aziz to help Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) by asking his ‘political masters’ in Putrajaya to return the state’s oil money.

“Whose fault is it that MPP is very much underdeveloped and cannot collect enough revenue? Malaya, of course! They have taken all our petrol and gas profits and only give us peanuts in return, a miserable five per cent. All the more that federal government should help pay for the Dewan Haji Baki and Hawker Centre projects.

“Let me remind Aziz that GE14 was in May 2018. Why is he imitating his political masters by going after RM1.8 million projects when his own government has billions of Sarawak oil and gas money yet to be returned to Sarawak?” Lo asked.

Lo opined that Aziz is in the dark about public administration and is a “little too arrogant” for someone with almost no real working experience.

“His assumptions and administrative knowledge appear to be copied from one of his university lecture notes. In real life, without the availability of funds, the textbook concept falls apart.

“Aziz should go to his boss (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) and (Finance Minister) Lim Guan Eng to tell them to keep to their promises to return 20 per cent oil royalty, to return 50 per cent taxes and to return all rights and privileges enshrined under MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement) to develop Sarawak,” said Lo. — DayakDaily