AES scandal: Vets' Association wants govt to pay back the interest too

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been told that it must not only refund money spent by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) to acquire two companies involved in the Automated Enforcement System (AES) but also pay back all other expenses spent by the board on the project. Former LTAT chairman Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said this included 12 per cent return per annum as agreed by the previous government in November 2017. He said anything short of this would “be quite unfair to LTAT and not in line with the Concession Agreement signed by the two parties.” He said the flip-flopping of decisions on the AES project by the previous government should not impact the return to LTAT of an investment which was taken with due commercial considerations. “For the record, LTAT has been paying an average of 11.3 per cent per year dividend to its members who are the serving Armed Forces personnel for the last 46 years. “In addition, LTAT has also spent RM428.6 million on various Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) program including giving scholarships, subsidising affordable houses built and sold to Armed Forces personnel and veterans, subsidising sale of consumers products in PERNAMA shops and donating to various servicemen and veteran programs,” he said, adding LTAT’s companies - especially the Boustead Group - had also provided employment and vendor development opportunities to veterans especially in the sectors of shipbuilding, ship repairs and maintenance, retailing, hospitalities (hotels) and plantations. In a statement today, Mohd Anwar - who is also the Veteran Association of Malaysian Armed Forces president, outlined the board’s involvement in the AES project. He said LTAT was invited by the then government to take over ATES Sdn Bhd and Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd, in 2014. The two companies were awarded to supply, install and maintain 1,093 cameras at strategic locations on roads and highways and traffic lights throughout Malaysia to support the Road Transport Department (RTD) in their efforts to encourage safe driving and reduce fatalities on the road.

Former LTAT chairman Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said this included 12 per cent return per annum as agreed by the previous government in November 2017. Pic by NSTP/ MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

He said based on the data and information available through the Concession Agreement between the two companies and the Government, a thorough study and due diligence was carried out by LTAT. “The project was deemed commercially viable with a strong double digit return on investment for LTAT besides helping to create opportunities for employment to Armed Forces veterans and reducing accidents and fatalities on Malaysian roads. “In accordance with LTAT’s investment procedures, the proposal was presented to and approved by LTAT, Investment Panel and Board of Directors. “In 2015, the Cabinet approved the proposed acquisition of the AES project by LTAT and in November 2016 the Cabinet approved a new financial model including a new fee structure for the AES project renamed AWAS,” he said. Mohd Anwar said the government, through the Ministry of Finance (MOF), however decided to takeover the AES (AWAS) project from LTAT in November last year and decided to pay back all LTAT’s investment cost in the AES project plus 12 per cent return per annum. He said LTAT believed that the AWAS (AES) project was a good project that could play a positive role in helping to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities as proven in studies conducted in the UK and also USA. The AES project came under the spotlight after Transport Minister Anthony Loke questioned the previous Government’s decision to ask LTAT to take over the project from the two private companies for RM555 million in what he described as a lop-sided agreement. The present government is taking over the automatic speed-trap system beginning Sept 1, and Loke said the RM555 million will be refunded to LTAT in stages. However, there was no mention of the 12 per cent annual return, as raised by Mohd Anwar. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd