Thursday, March 27, 2008

Places of worship and schools to pay only RM1

By WANI MUTHIAH and EDWARD RAJENDRA
newsdesk@thestar.com.my

SHAH ALAM: All registered places of worship and schools in Selangor will soon no longer pay quit rent and assessment rates. Instead, they will be charged a token annual fee of RM1.
Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said this would allow places of worship to channel funds for their own activities while schools would no longer be bogged down by fund-raising work.
The decision was made at the state exco meeting yesterday.
Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had three months ago waived close to RM500,000 in quit rent arrears owed by vernacular schools, to allow them to concentrate on education activities.
Klang Valley Taoism Association chairman Yeoh Choo Beng, 59, said the RM1 nominal fee for places of worship showed the caring approach of the new government.
Former Sree Selvavinayagar Temple chairman N.P. Raman lauded the move, while proposing that 100-year-old Hindu temples be gazetted as heritage buildings.
On the state's deal with Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd, Khalid said that such a privatisation exercise must ideally relieve the state of financial burden and commitment of managing utility services.
“And at the same time, it must be advantageous to the users, but if any one of these positions is not attainable, I think the rakyat has the right to find other ways to resolve the issue,” Khalid said.
On the eve of polling day, an agreement was signed between the previous state government and Puncak Niaga for the operation, management and maintenance of a raw water collection and treatment plant in Sungai Sireh, Tanjung Karang.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said on Monday that the Federal Government regarded the contract as being valid as long as the National Water Services Commission did not object to it.
Khalid said that if the agreement was not fair, the state government would ask Selangor residents to write to Shaziman that it was not done in the best interests of the state and its residents.
Asked how the state was going to resolve the problem, given that the Federal Government was also involved, Khalid said: “You will see. I come from the corporate world and we understand the word ‘restructure’.”
“The last time the calculations were done, it did not include consumers,” said Khalid, adding that all agreements made by the previous government would be reviewed.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/3/27/nation/20760843&sec=nation

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