Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is not convinced that Putrajaya lacks the financial ability to proceed with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.
“One of the Pakatan Harapan propaganda which surprised me the most was that many believed the ECRL project would cause the country to be pawned or forced to lease our land to China like what happened in Sri Lanka,” he said in his Facebook post today.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly said that Putrajaya might continue with the ECRL project on a smaller scale if China agrees to it.
Mahathir added that while both Malaysia and China have yet to arrive at a good solution, Putrajaya wants to ensure that it would not spend too much money and China would not suffer a loss.
It was part of Harapan’s 100-day promise to review mega projects, including the ECRL contract which was awarded to China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) in order to secure part of the loan.
Some had raised concerns that Malaysia might risk losing its sovereignty to China, comparing the project to Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka where its land was leased to Chinese state-owned firms for 99 years.
However, Najib believed that Putrajaya can repay the loan for the ECRL project regardless of its cost.
“The cost for ECRL is RM55 billion, but Harapan alleged that the project would cost RM81 billion now,” he said.
“But if they could ‘rob’ Petronas of RM82 billion for this year and next year, definitely they could afford to pay ECRL, priced at RM55 billion or RM81 billion,” he said.
“The cash reserve of Petronas had reached RM170 billion prior to the 14th general election,” he said.
Petronas will fork out RM30 billion in special dividends in 2019 in addition to the annual dividend paid to the government. This was meant to ease the government’s burden of repaying RM37 billion in GST refunds.
Najib said that if Harapan is willing to lose at least RM25 billion tax revenue annually by reverting to the sales and service tax (SST), then the government could afford the ECRL.
“Definitely the cost of ECRL is easier to repay in three or four years merely from the shortfall of (moving from) GST to SST,” he said.
“So, it is hard for me to believe why many Malaysians could be deceived and believed Harapan’s propaganda that Malaysia will become Sri Lanka because of the ECRL project.
“That is Sri Lanka, this is Malaysia,” he stressed.
source from: Malaysia Kini