Thursday, May 22, 2008

Selangor State Legislative Assembly: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE - Selangor Sultan calls for prudence

text taken from: thesun by Maria J. Dass
SHAH ALAM (May 21, 2008): The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said today he viewed seriously the spending of the 2008 allocation for state assemblymen within the first two months of this year. Citing this issue that is being hotly debated and, in some cases, had even gone to the Anti-Corruption Agency, as an example, he suggested that the present state government adopt a more prudent spending culture and ensure that all allocations are spent wisely.

Opening the state legislative assembly, the Sultan called for increased accountability, prudent spending, fair distribution of wealth, good governance and the need for the public to help protect resources like water.

In early April, Selangor executive councilor in charge of local government Ronnie Liu revealed that the 54 Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in the previous administration spent their total annual allocation of RM27 million meant for road and drainage repairs in 50 days. The RM500,000 that each of them received had been used up by February.

Sultan Sharafuddin said the 2008 budget for the state is aimed at equal distribution of wealth to ensure the people of Selangor enjoy a better quality of life. "The focus of this year’s budget expenditure is towards improving the state’s delivery system and good governance practices in addition to increasing revenue and boosting economic growth," he said, adding that the state government is working closely with the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) at the national level towards this.

Sultan Sharafuddin also said although poverty level in the state had dropped over the last few years, he was concerned over the increasing cost of living in urban areas which cover 90% of Selangor as this could increase the urban poverty rate. He said assistance for the poor should be allocated fairly to all races, especially underprivileged groups like the Orang Asli, and added that the state should provide full assistance to school leavers who pursue technical skills courses.

He also urged the people to look after the resources of the state like water and reduce wastage and pollution of this precious resource. "This responsibility is not for the state government to shoulder alone and has to be one which is shared with the rakyat," he said. "Starting June 1, the first 20 cubic meters of water will be free to all. However, to reduce wastage, the water rates will increase according to the amount used," he said adding that the more water a person uses, the more he has to pay.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim later told reporters the first 20 to 35 cubic meters of water costs RM1.03 per cubic meter and RM2 for usage of 35 cubic meters and above.

Sultan Sharafuddin also announced that the state is studying the possibility of introducing a five-day work week, and the provision of services seven days a week.
He said the state should step up effort to attract investors by easing procedures for investors, and hopes to see them going to conducive investment centres -- especially to Klang Valley 2 (Sepang and Kuala Langat).
Sultan Sharafuddin also said the state will decrease the de-gazetting of forest reserves for property development so as to maintain at least 30% green area in Selangor.

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