Sarawak had no choice in terminating project delivery partner, says ex-minister

The Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak will serve as a catalyst for development in the state. 

PETALING JAYA: Former works minister Fadillah Yusof today said the Sarawak state government had no choice but to sign the agreement terminating the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) agreement for the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project.

“It is true that the Sarawak state secretary signed with the federal government to terminate the PDP agreement for the project.

Fadillah Yusof.

“But what choice do you have when you are given the choice between signing the agreement to cancel and not receiving any of the pre-agreed funding for the project to continue?” Fadillah said in a statement.

The Petra Jaya MP, who is also Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chief whip, said this was the same situation faced by the state when it came to repairing schools in a bad condition.

He said Sarawak was “arm-twisted” to pay RM1 billion advance payment in stages to the federal government before the project to repair dilapidated schools by the federal government could begin.

This was despite this RM1 billion amount already approved in Budget 2018 under the previous BN government, he added.

Chong Chieng Jen.

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen yesterday said Fadillah should seek clarification from his own GPS state government why it had agreed to terminate the PDP agreement and signed the deal on Feb 6, 2020.

“Before Fadillah starts making baseless accusations against the federal government, my advice to him is to seek clarification from his own GPS state government.”

Chong said under the previous agreement, the PDP was to be paid a fee of 5.5% of the total project costs. In addition, the PDP was also to be fully reimbursed for all its expenses, including its employees’ salaries, allowances and all other expenses.

“That is why, upon the removal of the PDP and reverting the implementation of the project to the conventional method, the government can save an estimated RM3.1 billion.”

Fadillah said Chong must learn how “to differentiate between Sarawak being forced to agree to a decision versus a federal minister plucking figures out of thin air to claim imaginary savings”.

He said DAP secretary-general and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had made a misleading statement that the cancellation of the PDP contract will lead to savings of RM3.1 billion, with costs cut from RM21.9 billion to RM18.8 billion.

Fadillah said Federal Works Minister Baru Bian had stated in Parliament on March 26, 2019 that the original targeted cost of the project was RM16.48 billion.

“Subsequent to that, the PDP was able to further reduce that cost to RM15.13 billion via cost optimisation and efficiency savings while still maintaining the original project completion date of end-2021.

“Until its cancellation, there had never been any accusation that the PDP was late in its project delivery or had gone above budget.

“So how can the newly announced cost of RM18.8 billion be considered a reduction of RM3.1 billion from the previous cost of RM15.13 billion?

“On the contrary, it is an increase in cost of RM3.67 billion,” Fadillah said.

He feared these changes will delay the Pan Borneo Sarawak project and increase costs.

“When that happens, all Sarawakians should know that Chong is equally responsible.”