GEORGE TOWN: The state government's call to halt outsourcing may seem like a problem in the beginning but in the long run, millions of ringgit saved will be translated into revenue for local councils.
State local government and traffic management committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the call for local councils to stop outsourcing of its core services was made recently, to cut back on the high costs being paid to service the existing contracts.
He said core services such as solid waste management were supposed to be the local councils' responsibility, but over the years, many have taken the easy way out by getting contractors to do the job.
"This is not right because this is what we do best. Nowadays, even other core services such as maintanence of public amenities, parking and sewerage were outsourced," Chow said.
"We want the local councils to cut back on outsourcing and do the jobs themselves.
"It will be difficult in the beginning but in the long run, a lot of money can be saved. The revenue can then be used to conduct programmes and upgrade their services."
He said, he expected Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) to feel the pinch most, as it currently outsourced all its services compared to Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), which outsourced about half of its services.
"MPSP has been asked to stop renewing waste management contracts. Some 2,000 contractors who submitted their applications in an open tender bid were turned down last month," he said.
Chow said when Pakatan Rakyat came to power in 2008, it had wanted to stop the privatisation of services that had become a culture among government establisments.
"The councils should play a bigger role. We can do better if we try. We have to protect our turf ... otherwise, the cost of outsourcing will increase every year," he said.
Chow agreed that privatisation came about due to the lack of staff willing to work in the local councils.
He said local councils should attract workers by using the additional RM20 million fund on top of the current RM65 million to raise salaries and lure more locals to join the councils.
"The local councils does not employ foreigners ... therefore, it was pertinent that the allocation be used to employ locals," he said.
It was reported last month that MPSP would save up to RM8 million in revenue over two to three years, by reducing outsourcing in the long run.
MPSP has three districts -- Seberang Perai Utara, Tengah and Selatan which were broken into more than 50 zones for waste management.
Through a process of consolidation recently, MPSP president Maimunah Mohd Shariff said the zones were reduced to 37.
She said, the council would have to increase its present coverage of four zones to reduce their dependency on contractors.