Lim: Penang Turf Club has to pay commercial rates

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Turf Club (PTC) is a profit-making enterprise and hence it is only right for the club to pay quit rent under commercial rates, says Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Commenting on PTC President Datuk Ong Eng Khuan's statement that the club has been asked to pay RM6.1 million in quit rent under commercial rates by the Land and Mines Department for 2008, 2009 and 2010, Lim said it was justified for the PTC to pay commercial rates.

Ong had said the PTC would appeal to the state government for the assessment of quit rent for its 104ha land to be reverted to its previous assessment under open space category.
Lim said when the zoning of the PTC land was changed in 2007 by the previous administration from open space to mixed development to facilitate the development of the doomed Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project, the commercial rates were applicable, even if no redevelopment has been undertaken on the land yet.

The Land and Mines department in late February had sent a revised quit rent assessment notice of arrears for the PTC and revised the quit rent from RM493,045 to RM2,363,559 per year, an increase of 4.79 times. Hence, the PTC now owed RM6.1 million for the revised quit rent for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Showing journalists the PTC's annual report and accounts which ended Nov 30, 2009, Lim said the organisation clearly made profits.

"The club earned interest of RM1,693,633 for its fixed deposit of RM48,543,279 and its surplus before tax for 2009 was RM3.87 million and surplus after tax RM3.13 million while revenue was RM39,900,971 for the same period.

"It also gave out donations totaling RM357,510 which also shows that the PTC is still making money.

"The quit rent charges are not much, compared to the profits made by the club.

"Clearly the PTC is making money so rightfully, even if the land has not been redeveloped, it has to pay the commercial rates," Lim said at a press conference at the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC).

He said the state government was willing to hold discussions with the PTC on the matter.

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