GEORGE TOWN, Nov 26 — The Penang government has allotted RM71.13 million for the state’s Islamic development from its total budget for next year.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the sum included allocations for the management of state departments related to Islamic religious affairs and development of mosques, surau (prayer halls), Islamic educational institutions and implementation of Islamic programmes.

However, he stressed that the state was also committed to other religions in the state, when noting the allocation of 22 acres in Seberang Perai Utara worth RM17.65 million for non-Muslim places of worship there and RM9.2 million for supporting infrastructure.

“A total 35 religious associations consisting of those practising Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and others were given consideration to be offered land on that site,” he said when reading the state budget 2022 at the state legislative assembly today.

He said these non-Islamic places of worship would be operational within two years.

The state allocated a total RM316.1 million for development under the state Budget 2022, an increase of RM22.03 million compared to this year.

The development funds are channelled through nine state departments such as the Chief Minister’s Office and State Secretary (RM154.32 million), state finance department (RM87.47 million), public works department (RM26.51 million), Islamic affairs department (RM19.95 million), drainage and irrigation department (RM14.72 million), agricultural department (RM6.25 million), veterinary services department (RM3.49 million), forestry department (RM2.2 million) and botanic gardens department (RM1.22 million).

Chow said the project with the largest allocation for 2022 was the Gurney Wharf project, at RM60 million.

He said phase one of the project was expected to be completed by the end of 2022 and phase two, by the end of 2023.

“The overall project is expected to cost RM200 million,” he said.

The project is aimed at improving the quality of life of the people by creating a 100-kilometre waterfront promenade for the public.

Chow also announced a special payment of a half month’s salary or a minimum of RM1,000 to each of the state’s 3,962 civil servants.

“This will cost the state government a total RM5.59 million and payment will be made in December,” he said.

He said the special aid was to demonstrate the state’s appreciation of its civil service, especially frontliners who have worked tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We fully appreciate the role played by the state Health Department, the state National Security Council, the police, the army and all state and federal agencies,” he said.

The state is also concerned with the impact on the tourism sector, thus it has allocated a total RM50 million for the sector next year.

Chow said among the programmes planned for next year included Penang International Food Festival (PIFF) 2022, Penang Anime Matsuri (PAM) 2022, Penang International Container Art Festival (PICAF), Side Events 2022, International Base Jump 2022, Penang Bridge International Marathon, Penang International Dragon Boat Festival, Penang Bon Odori Festival, Miss Asia Global 2022, Program Nusantara (Festival of the Malay World) dan Penang Music Festival.

In addition to this, Penang Hill Corporation was also allocated a RM11 million grant next year pending the revival of the tourism sector.