'Right move to review projects'

Alzahrin Alias

KUALA LUMPUR: The first 100 days of the Pakatan Harapan’s administration have seen some reviews of the nation’s mega infrastructure projects, which began during former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s time.

They included the RM80.92 billion East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) and Mass Transit Line 3 (MRT3), which reportedly cost between RM40 billion and RM45 billion.

Economist Associate Professor Dr Aimi Zulhazmi Abdul Rashid said the government’s move to review such mega projects was the right decision on the back
of the country’s financial situation.

Aimi, who is also Universiti Kuala Lumpur strategic project director, said it was undeniable that the mega projects initiated by the previous Barisan Nasional government would have a huge impact on the economy.

“But to carry on with the mega projects, financial resources should be sufficient without putting the country’s financial position at risk.

“Therefore, the review should be made by the government with a more transparent contract tender to prevent wastage.

“The best example is the LRT3 project, which was initially cancelled.

“It was then reviewed and given the nod to proceed, but with the total expenditure reduced by almost 47 per cent.”

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng previously said the government had yet to finalise the direction of ECRL.

He said if the government intended to pursue the project, a study should be carried out, taking into account the construction method as well as the project’s scope and specifications.

He added that this was to reduce the cost of the project to ease the financial burden of the government.

“If the government proposes not to continue with the project, it is likely that it will proceed with legal procedures to determine the amount of compensation to be paid.”

Aimi said the government was expected to take the same approach with other mega projects, such as ECRL.

This was because ECRL, funded by a third party, should be reviewed to ensure the project is relevant.

He said it took a long time for negotiations and studies to be completed, especially when it came to diplomatic relations with China.

“It is anticipated that the Chinese government will give full cooperation to the government if it is to be re-evaluated because the diplomatic and socio-economic relations between the two countries are important.” © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd