PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is deliberately confusing the public about land sold by the Penang state government for revenue with land sold for national development and employment creation, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) said.
"When I said that the Penang Pakatan government sold only 106 acres or 36 times less than the 3,661 acres of land sold by the previous Barisan government, I did not include land sold by both the Pakatan and Barisan state government for development and employment creation," Lim said.
In a statement on Monday (Oct 22), Lim explained that land sold for economic and national development included land sold to multi-national corporations in the electronics sector, educational institutions, IKEA in Batu Kawan, land used to establish the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone and the land reclamation opposite Pulau Jerejak.
He said only land sold for revenue collection was included in his calculation.
"Najib is also wrong when he said that among the land sold by the Pakatan government under my administration as the Penang Chief Minister from 2008-2018, included lands for the purpose of the tunnel projects and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) where land reclamation rights were granted," Lim added.
He said the tunnel projects referred to 1,000 acres of reclaimed land near Gurney Drive that was granted by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government and sold at RM1 per square foot, with 10% of land granted to the state government.
"As the Penang Chief Minister, this 10% land offer was improved to 20% of land granted to the state government," he said
Lim added that no revenue has been collected for the PTMP as the land reclamation rights have still not been approved by the relevant authorities.
He adds that even though Pakatan sold less land than BN, they still received more money because land sales were sold by open tender instead of direct negotiations as done during the BN administration.
Lim said it is not true that state government revenue and surpluses came solely from land sales as revenue from land sales by the Pakatan government was used for affordable housing, leaving a remaining sum amounting to only 10.4% of state expenditure.
He also slammed Najib for claiming credit for Penang’s success in reducing the state government's debts by 90% when the Federal Government took over Perbadanan Bekalan Air’s (PBA) water debts of RM655mil.
"The Federal Government obtained PBA assets in exchange for taking over state government’s debts, a similar water-restructuring exercise conducted with other states," he said.
"Even though a similar water-restructuring exercise was carried out for other states, their state debts did not go down like Penang's.
"As of April this year, the 13 state governments owe the Federal Government a total of RM17.64bil. Of this, Pahang has the highest debt totalling RM3.12bil while Penang has the lowest debt totalling RM60.2mil," he added.
Lim was responding to Najib's claims that he was lying about the amount of land sold by the Penang state government when he was its CM.
Najib, who is Pekan MP, claimed Lim was being dishonest when he said that he reduced the state government’s debt by 90 percent, adding that it was the BN federal government’s efforts in 2010 to restructure the state's water assets that really did the job.