GEORGE TOWN(July,18,2008) : By Opalyn Mok
The Penang State government was today urged to to take up the challenge of privatising mega projects instead of relying on funding from the federal government.
In making the call, Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) president Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping said the state government should look towards the private sector for funding of mega projects such as the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.
"Collaboration with the private sector would solve the shortage of funds and it is better than having to be dependent on the federal government's allocations," Tan said.
In an immediate response to PCCC's call for the state to start looking towards privatisation for funding of PORR, Lim said the state will continue to pursue the federal government for the project to continue.
"This is a promise made by the federal government to the taxpayers in Penang. We want the federal government to fulfill its promises because it is the taxpayers' right," he said.
However, the state government will consider privatisation if the federal government continue to refuse to fund the PORR and monorail projects, Lim added.
Tan who led the PCCC executive committee to pay a courtesy call on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng also handed in a memorandum to the state government listing out proposals on several main issues.
They include heritage conservation, the tourism industry, the transportation and infrastructure upgrade system and private enterprise investments.
PCCC proposed that the state government set up a management committee with entrusted powers within the heritage zone in line with George Town and Malacca being listed as one of Unesco's World Heritage Sites.
"Not only does the state government need to apply for extra allocation from the federal government but there is also to encourage private enterprises to start a conservation and beautification project on the old buildings within the heritage zone," he said.
Tan also proposed that the state government set up a Heritage Trust Fund to raise funds so that the state can use it to purchase heritage properties, renovate and sell them to interested foreign or local parties at market price.
On tourism, Tan proposed that an international-class marine aquarium be built and also to encourage local and foreign companies to develop and build a luxury marine park-resort in Tanjung Bunga.
He said a theme park, based on the Disneyland concept, should be built in Balik Pulau through a joint venture between local and foreign companies.
Commenting on the deferred monorail project Tan said it was not necessary for Penang to have it.
"There should be other alternatives as replacement because we are worried that the monorail would be a 'white elephant', flashy and impractical," he said, adding that the government cannot not afford to keep on subsidising the fare.