Pundits applaud govt axing ECRL, China projects

Sharina Ahmad
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam says that the cancellation of the ECRL and the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline proved Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's diplomatic achievement. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Economic observers lauded Putrajaya’s move to cancel the China-backed East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) and the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) which would have burdened Malaysia with tens of billions of ringgit more in debt.

Asli Center of Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam told Berita Harian that the cancellation announced in Beijing yesterday proved Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's diplomatic achievement.

“It is good that the government of China review Dr Mahathir's thoughts. He has the high ability in convincing someone,” Ramon was quoted saying.

He said the move showed the Chinese government agrees the projects are not viable and will create financial distress to the Malaysian government.

Sunway University Business School Economics Professor Yeah Kim Leng said the move is a positive development in Malaysia's debt consolidation and will pave the way for the government to reduce its long-term debt levels.

“Therefore, it is necessary to gain confidence in its debt management and macroeconomy, since the viability of this project continues to be controversial, it is best to cancel this project,” he was quoted saying in the same report.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said cancellation was good for the country as it allows the government to focus on priority projects without straining public coffers.

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