GEORGE TOWN, Oct 26 – Penang has sliced RM600 million or 95 per cent of the state’s debt since the Pakatan Rakyat took over the state in March 2008, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
The first-term chief minister pointed out the state debt stood at RM29.66 million as of September 30 compared to the massive RM630.13 million in March 2008.
Guan Eng (picture) also said Penang’s Budget 2012 will be a surplus even as it is expected to undergo a deficit of RM107.78 million because the state has regained RM1.13 billion in reserves as at end of last year.
With such glowing figures in the black, the Johor-born DAP leader could not help but point to his political foes helming Putrajaya which saw the national debt grow as much as RM190 billion or 71 per cent within the same period.
The federal government’s debt is due to rise to RM456 billion this year from RM266 billion at end 2007, Lim said.
In a Deepavali speech in George Town, Lim said “this success propelled the Penang state government to introduce all kinds of welfare programmes to benefit state residents.”
He promised families earning RM500 a month and less – classified as harcore poor – that the state government will top the difference to ensure they get at least RM600 monthly.
Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, said the state will also give RM100 pocket money a year to each student in Primary 1 and 4, as well as Secondary 1 and 4 starting next year to lessen the burden on parents who have to buy their children new uniforms and other school gear.
He said the new scheme, which he called “Skim Pelajar Emas”, will cost RM10 million.
“The state government proposes to pay this amount every year and not just five years once or only during election season,” Lim vowed at the state’s Deepavali open house celebration in Times Square today.
The federal government recently announced a one-off payment of RM500 cash aid to all households earning below RM3,000 and RM100 to all primary and secondary schoolgoers in its Budget 2012.
Lim had offered other similar goodies in the weeks leading up to Deepavali, including a promise to the Hindu Endowment Board to inject RM1 million in funds yearly.
Last Sunday, he handed over keys to brand new double-storey homes to 24 families who were evicted from Kampung Buah Pala two years ago.