Full review of mega-projects, including those rushed through before GE14, says Azmin

Azril Annuar
Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali chairs the first meeting with the management of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) at the Ministerial Office of the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya May 22, 2018. ― Picture by Razak Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, May 22 ― The newly elected Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will be looking into and reviewing mega-projects awarded by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, particularly those that were approved just before the 14th general election.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali told a press conference today that the reviews will also focus on projects that have a direct impact on the public.

“We want to see all the mega projects approved by the previous administration. We might have to revisit and renegotiate the terms of some of the projects it it isn't implemented yet. Projects that have a direct impact on the public, such as rural infrastructure will be given priority.

“Any projects that had its approval rushed through just before the 14th General Election by the previous administration will have its processes reviewed as well,” Azmin told reporters on the first day of his new job.

He said the EPU will advise whether or not these projects are critical to the public even if acceptance letters have already been issued. These projects will likely be axed if it is not, as part of the government's austerity move.

On a similar note, some of the mega projects that Azmin plans on looking into for reviews and perhaps renegotiation include the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the High Speed Rail (HSR).

Earlier, Azmin who took his oath of office before Yang Di Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V yesterday, was briefed by the various senior members of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

He said the unit briefed him regarding the RM1 trillion debt which has caused “major alarm” to the new administration.

“This (debt) has caused a major alarm to the new administration. This matter was also discussed this morning and we have to look at the details on what contributed to this huge debt of almost RM1 trillion, which was the figure presented to me this morning.

“Part of it is because the (tender) process was not open or transparent. Most of the projects were off budget. It was not under or part of the national budget,” said Azmin.

The Gombak MP also has plans on increasing the nation's developmental expenditure (DE) while reducing its operational expenditure (OE) based on his experience as Selangor mentri besar.

“We have had a long discussion on DE because of the way it is being practice. The quantum needs to be reviewed. I shared my experience in Selangor where we were able to increase the DE from a lower percentage up to 53 per cent and reduce the OE to 43 per cent.

“However, on a federal level we need to study this and one of the ways is to reduce government expenditure based on situational needs. One key issue is that all tender processes must be an open tender - no more limited tender or direct negotiations.

“The procurement process must be very transparent,” Azmin said.

Touching on the Selangor mentri besar post, Azmin who is still the interim Mentri Besar said the matter will be settled in a few weeks time.

“The palace has issued a statement yesterday morning and clarified this matter. Tuanku Sultan (Selangor) has consented I take up this federal post and at the same time we will discuss with Tuanku the next potential Mentri Besar,” he said.

The PKR deputy president confirmed that the matter will be discuss by PH presidential council and will go through the usual process of mutual consent by the respective coalition leaders.