Guan Eng: Closed-door talks to cut ECRL cost

The federal government is renegotiating terms of the RM55 billion ECRL project. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The controversial East Coast Rail Link project is likely to continue, with RM20 billion already spent on the controversial project. Negotiations on reducing the costs are being carried out behind closed doors, according to a media interview with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today.

Another controversial project, the High-Speed Rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was being reviewed, he said.

His comments come two months after Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said in election campaign speeches that the ECRL project would be scrapped, as being unnecessary, if the coalition came to power.

However last month he said Malaysia would renegotiate the terms. The project is financed through a soft loan from China.

“It doesn’t really make sense to just scrap it because we’ve already paid RM20 billion,” Lim was quoted as saying. “It’s one of the projects we are looking to renegotiate.”

The 688km railway line connects Port Klang, Selangor, to Pengkalan Kubor, Kelantan, via Kuantan, Pahang, and came under fierce criticism during the election campaign for the size of Chinese involvement in Malaysian infrastructure projects.

Lim said the Pakatan Harapan government was committed to re-negotiating the costs.

The previous government had announced that the project was to cost about RM55 billion, but a senior adviser to the government has suggested that the total cost could amount to as much at RM70 billion.

Lim said the government was studying all aspects of the High-Speed Rail project. “We have seen the numbers. There is the financial aspect, the engineering aspect and the legal aspect. We have studied the first two and we are now asking the AG to look at the third aspect,” Lim said in the interview.

He is expected to visit Singapore for talks on the project, together with Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

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