PAC tells govt to buck up

(The Sun) – GEORGE TOWN (Nov 23, 2011): The Penang state government wants an amicable solution to resolve a deadlock in implementing the newly gazetted State Housing Board.

The obstacle in the setting-up of the housing board is due to the federal Public Services Department (PSD) holding back the appointments of the essential personnel to serve in the board.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state is still waiting for a positive response from the PSD, so that the state could activate the board to start implementing its housing policy, programme and projects.

“Our efforts to provide affordable quality housing for the poor is being frustrated because of the PSD failure to make the appointments of personnel. We want an amicable solution, and we hope to have further discussions.”

Lim said this after handing over emergency aid cheques to three families whose houses were destroyed by fire here on Tuesday.

The funds were provided through a policy put in place since 2008 for aid to be given to fire victims within 24 hours of the incident

Lim said the affordable housing issue was too important to be politicised and that other states like Sabah and Sarawak have successfully formed similar housing boards.

The Penang version was started through an enactment passed by the State Assembly last year.

But the Special Committee to Study Higher Level Posts decided to postpone making any appointment to serve in the Penang board.

Asked if the state can go ahead and appoint its own staff, Lim said it may not be legally possible, adding that “we don’t want to come down to that.”

Lim said that the Penang state government will, however, proceed with plans to have an affordable housing project in Batu Kawan, despite the setback with the board.

Lim also said that the state government has also launched a RM500 million Affordable Quality Home Fund to serve the whole state.