Thursday, October 22, 2009

Auditor general's report highlights Penang's financial prudence

Harakahdaily reported...

The Penang state government has received praise in the auditor general's 2008 report for its cost-cutting measures and prudent ways, which have resulted in the state's consolidated funds increasing 21.1% (RM178.45 million) from RM847.45 million in 2007 to RM1.02 billion in 2008.

The report states the consolidated funds stood at RM703.66 million in 2004, RM794.68 million in 2005 and RM770.49 million in 2006.

The report says the state's expenditure was reduced by RM35.41 million or by 11.1% due to its cost-cutting measures and priority being given to spending on the people or for people-centric programmes.

The report lists the reasons for the reduction in expenses, which included only filling up critical vacancies, reduction in hotel expenses for seminars, courses and workshops, and also using cheaper air travel and government vehicles as modes of transportation for functions.

Other reductions in expenses include the freeze on new asset purchases and other uncommitted expenditure.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, an accountant by training said it was the first time that the state's consolidated funds reached above the RM1 billion mark.

He said the state government was vindicated with the auditor-general's overall analysis, which described the state's financial status at the end of 2008 as good.

"This clearly shows that our efforts to cut costs and implement thrifty measures have been effective and this state government is moving in the right direction. The state's finances have improved for the better and not worse with this state government.

"We have managed to save hundreds of millions of ringgit, but we will still look into the report which questions the RM31,000 discrepancy in tyre purchases. Every sen counts and the state financial officer Farizan Darus will be giving a detailed account on what transpired," Lim said at a press conference after launching the Penang Economic Monthly magazine, published by Penang's Socio Economic Research Institute.

Also present were Farizan and Chief Minister 2 Prof P Ramasamy.

Lim said with the savings achieved, the state government would also expand it deficit budget for 2010, to carry out more people-centric projects including giving out aid to the elderly and other needy Penangites and also to stimulate the economy.

The auditor general's report also named two state-owned agencies -- the Penang Development Corp and the state financial department -- as those among 16 agencies/departments in the country with a four star-listing for achieving above 90% in their financial management.

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