GEORGE TOWN – The DAP-led Penang government today tabled Budget 2018 totalling RM1.25 billion with a deficit of RM748.5 million, up from the RM667.1 million deficit in the 2017 budget.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, when tabling the budget, said the deficit did not arise from the direct operating expenditure of RM652.30 million but due to the transfer of RM600 million of the Consolidated Revenue Account to the Development Fund for financing of planned projects amounting to RM684.97 million.
“The estimated deficit of RM748.54 million in Budget 2018 will be met from the State Accumulated Savings,” he said when tabling the Supply Bill 2018 in the assembly.
Lim said the revenue estimates for 2018 did not rise but the state government had no option than to retain the state operating and development expenditure as in the 2017 budget.
“The 2018 deficit budget is inevitable due to the need to consider intensifying the implementation of development projects and providing loan facilities to state statutory bodies to stimulate and transform the state economy with the overall goal of promoting the people’s well-being,” he said.
Lim said that if the RM600 million transfer from the Consolidated Revenue Account to the Development Fund was exempted from expenditure, the estimated operating expenditure of the state government for 2018 will be RM652.30 million and the deficit value can be reduced to RM148.54 million.
He said the state government estimated the revenue to be over RM503 million, which was expected to be lower than that for 2017.
“This is because of the limited state revenue resources, as revenue from investment interests is expected to drop owing to a reduction in the dividend payments and fixed deposit interest rates, which contributes further to lower revenue estimates for 2018,” he said.
Lim also said that the state development budget for 2018 totalling over RM684 million was a decrease of RM202.46 million or 22.81 per cent compared to the development budget of RM887.44 million for 2017.
“The decline is due to the reduction of loan facilities provided by the state government to state statutory bodies, of RM350 million for 2018 compared to RM639 million for 2017,” he said.
Lim also announced a state government allocation of RM10 million for the protection of hill slopes as well as a study on climate change and to address illegal farming.
“Based on observation, landslides are less likely to occur in areas where there is development compared to areas which are not developed. Evidently, land protection works are carried out during development but this does not happen in the case of illegal farming,” he said.
The house will sit again on Monday. – BERNAMA