Years of incompetency and corruption under BN’s rule has resulted in the state government being broke financially; in 2008 the state owed more than RM 2 billion in debts to the federal government, mainly due to water supply plans and projects. Yet in the short span of three years, Pakatan’s steady efforts at reforms in Kedah have seen many changes in the state’s fiscal and social sphere. These changes have for the most part eluded national attention, from both the mainstream and alternative media.
Below we review some of the changes and achievements that have taken place under PR’s tenure in Kedah since 2008:-
- Revenue increase – Kedah has been registering increase in revenue for three consecutive years. From RM 357 million in 2008, the state has seen revenue rise more than 17 percent on top of the 2009 figures, at around more than RM 400 million (Warta Kedah, 17 January 2011). The revenue has also enabled it to achieve budget surplus, the first since 2006.
- Timber revenue collection – Open tender of timber concessions awarding has yielded the state more than two-fold increase in timber revenue from an average of RM 10 million under BN’s tenure to RM 53 million in 2010, for the same size tract of forest land approved.
- GLCs’ contribution – since 2009, government-linked companies (GLCs) have cumulatively contributed RM 30 million to the state coffers, unprecedented for Kedah.
- Taxes reduced – at the onset of 2008, premium charges for many categories of land ownership were reduced by around 25 to 75 percent from the previous regime’s policies. This is impactful for many of the state’s farming citizens, who have land holdings but little cash.
- Kafalah scheme – a bereavement benefit grant amounting to RM 500 is provided for the members of a deceased’s family.
- Non-Malay cultural celebrations – another unprecedented parallel was set when Kedah provided RM 1.5 million annual budget allocation for non-Malay cultural and religious celebration events.
- Schools land allocations and funding – state lands were provided or approved for three vernacular schools. The state government also helped to pay electricity and water bills for 21 Chinese vernacular primary schools that had their utilities funding cut off by the Education ministry in 2010
- Token fee for land – from 2010 onwards, all private school lands including non-profit welfare premises are charged a token of RM 10 annually.
Source – Kedah Sejahtera 2008, www.wartakedah.net