KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — DAP national public secretary Tony Pua criticised former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for claiming ignorance when disputing the government’s estimated cost for the 37km Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3).
The special officer to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also accused Najib, the previous holder of the portfolio, of incompetence for saying he did not know that the project would blow its budget as currently alleged.
In a statement today, Pua picked apart Najib’s denial that LRT3 would cost RM31.65 billion, as reported in an interview with the Malaysiakini news portal.
Among others, he said it was untenable for Najib to claim not to know that RM9 billion budget the latter previously announced for the project only covered basic construction costs and not any form of acquisition.
He also highlighted that project operator Prasarana already awarded RM15.2 billion worth of work packages in March, which must be approved by a Finance Ministry committee personally chaired by Najib.
“Hence you were obviously terrible with your job since you now claim that ‘no contracts worth RM15 billion were signed’,” Pua said.
He also challenged Najib’s insistence that the additional RM22 billion allocation sought by Prasanara has not been approved, saying this did not change the fact that this was the amount Prasarana believed it required to complete the job.
“Datuk Seri Najib Razak should ask himself how he was so incompetent, ignorant, clueless and irresponsible as to be completely not aware of how the cost of the LRT3 project has gone out of control,” Pua said.
Lim previously revealed the RM31 billion figure by disclosing Prasarana’s request for an additional RM22 billion in government guarantees above the RM10 billion it secured in 2015.
Lim subsequently announced that the Pakatan Harapan government has been able to slash 47 per cent from the initial cost to bring this to RM16.63 billion by adjusting project parameters.
Najib responded in the interview yesterday by arguing that the second request for the RM22 billion government backing has not been approved.
He also insisted that there had not been RM15 billion worth of contracts signed.
Today, Pua said the PH government’s estimates were that high because it intended to be fully transparent in such matters.
“Unlike the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan administration has no intention to hide the true cost of the project.
“In this case, the overall total cost of the project, has been renegotiated down to RM16.63 billion and it includes the WPCs, land acquisition, project management, consultancy fees, operational and overhead costs, as well as interest during construction,” said Pua.