George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee says restoration works may involve owners surrendering their rights of properties before any action can be taken. NSTP file pic.

GEORGE TOWN: George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) said shared effort from owners are important in restoring dilapidated buildings in Penang as highlighted in the 2nd series of the Auditor General's Report 2016.

Its general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said such effort can only be possible with full cooperation from the owners of the buildings.

"The process might involve owners surrendering their rights of properties to GTWHI before any action can be taken.

"This is a shared effort from the owners for their willingness to invest on the relatively expensive restoration and conservation of heritage buildings," she said in a statement today.

According to the audit report, three of the 20 development projects within the stipulated time frame, failed to be completed on time.

It noted that one of the projects also did not have approval for extension of time — the preservation of cemeteries at the Protestant Cemetery site worth RM118,680.

It was mentioned that there was a 100-day delay. Although the contractor wrote to GTWHI for extension of time on Sept 10, 2015, there was no written reply from the latter.

Based on the contract, a 10 per cent monthly fine from the amount of the project would be imposed on the contractor. However, checks showed the RM39,560 fine for the 100-day delay was not imposed on the contractor. This is a loss to the state government.

However, a reply received from the GTWHI on Sept 8 this year said it had taken action to further improve on the appointments of contractors.

It also said that the official involved in the preservation of the Protestant Cemetery project had been served with a notice by the general manager on Aug 30 this year.

Apart from that, the report revealed other weaknesses including the direct appointment of contractors without approval from the board of directors; delay in completion of projects without being penalised; inadherence to the conditions in the George Town Festival programme; inavailability of standard operating procedures in managment of projects and programme; and absence of an audit committee.

The audit team on 20 of the 38 development projects between 2014 and June this year, showed that there were direct appointments of contractors for 16 projects worth RM3.03 million.

The appointments of contractors were carried out by the management without the approval of the board of directors and with no prior discussion by GTWHI board of directors.

Ang said that from 2017 onwards, all appointments of consultant or contractor are only conducted with permission from the board of directors.

"New Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) have been introduced and the management will continue to improve our working procedures with inputs from all staff.

"Some of the SOPs which have been introduced are on project budget preparation, project management, asset management, and so on," the statement added.

The George Town World Heritage site measures 259.42ha with 5,013 buildings. A grant, totalling RM11.72 million, from 2014 until 2016 had been utilised for the management, monitoring and promotion of the George Town World Heritage site.