Penang to record first budget deficit next year following flood disaster

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is expected to record its first budget deficit next year following a need to inject millions of ringgit into rebuilding the state after the devastating flood, which swept through its five districts over one week ago.

The state has been recording surpluses in its budget since 2008 but Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng admitted that it may be difficult next year in view of the need to inject millions to help alleviate the ill effects of the floods.

Although, the damages have yet to be established, the state is expected to incur multi-million ringgit losses over major damages to the public and private properties .

And Penang is also expected to spend additional millions to mitigate the rivers and hillsides after a total of 131 forms of landslides were detected during the two-day torrential rain storm on Nov 5 and 6.

It was reported that 80% of the state was inundated with floods and its effects while up to 9,000 people were temporary displaced during the height of the flood.

Lim had already announced a fund of RM100 million has been set aside, and he topped it up by an additional RM5 million in anticipation of a need to provide more temporary relief to thousands of residents affected by the floods.

The state also plans to pay out RM700 each before the year's end as a temporary relief payment to 100,000 people, who were directly or indirectly affected.

And the state has sent a clarion call to the private sector to donate handsomely, with the initiative having collected up to RM9.6 million as of noon, today.

Lim said the target for the private sector's fund is RM20 million, and if it cannot be met, the state will top it up to ensure it reaches the mark.

Today at the sidelines of the state legislative assembly sitting, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers northern chapter contributed RM350,000 to the fund.

Its president Datuk Ooi Eng Hock handed over a mock cheque to Lim.

Lim also urged the Federal Government to expedite federal relief aid to the victims, saying it is not to aid the state but the people here.