Each kilometre of ECRL to cost RM96.8 million?

tony pua

KUALA LUMPUR: At a cost of RM60 billion, the 620km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) will cost a monstrous RM96.8 million per kilometre, said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua in a statement.

“That would mean that the ECRL will cost 120 per cent and 143 per cent more than the northern and southern double-tracking projects respectively,” he claimed.

The MP demanded that Prime Minister Najib Razak confirm whether the Prime Minister’s Department had decided to award the ECRL to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) for an inflated cost of RM60 billion without any tender.

If so, the massively inflated cost of the ECRL without a tender exercise, lent credence to the Sarawak Report documents which detail how the “excess” was to bail out the debt-stricken 1MDB, added Pua who is also DAP National Publicity Secretary.

In effect, he charged, the Najib administration was merely using ECRL as an excuse and an outrageous cover up to mask additional borrowings of RM30 billion in order to repay the “billions embezzled from 1MDB”. Most tragically, it means that ordinary Malaysians, through the Government would finance the entire ECRL project with more crippling debt, he continued.

“We are merely covering up a gigantic hole by digging ourselves an even bigger hole.”

Pua was commenting on Sarawak Report exposing new documents which allege that the Malaysian Government was in the midst of finalising a new contract “for a whopping sum of RM60 billion”. The East Coast Economic Region Development Council had previously expected the cost of the project to be “only” RM30 billion.

The people cannot be blamed for giving Sarawak Report the benefit of the doubt, said Pua. “The whistle-blower website has been proven right time and again, especially on the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal.”

The documents reveal that CCCC, upon being awarded the inflated contract, would pay 1MDB via a nominated “credit-worthy” company US$850 million (RM3.4b) for repaying International Petroleum Investment Corporation’s (IPIC) advances, and assume the debt of 1MDB subsidiaries totalling US$4.78 billion (RM19.4b).

“These payments are clearly meant for IPIC which has taken 1MDB to the London arbitration court for US$6.5 billion,” said Pua.

More interestingly, he said, part of the inflated cost would be for acquiring substantial stakes in Low Taek Jho-linked companies, Putrajaya Perdana Bhd and Loh & Loh Corporation Bhd for US$244 million and US$71 million respectively.

He claimed there was a proposed payment by CCCC to a “consultancy/strategic/comms services” company and another “nominated company” for US$65 million and US$200 million respectively.

Apparently, he said, the payment to the unnamed mysterious “nominated company” was to be made once the ECRL contract was signed in December.

“Hence, it appears that even during a desperate bailout, generous commissions will be paid to certain parties, to finance their lifestyle of luxury and debauchery,” charged Pua.

Related Story:
Blogger: Sarawak Report’s ECRL claims full of holes