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Malaysia
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Najib: Govt unlikely to recover RM10 bil from scrapping ECRL

Former prime minister Najib Razak says the government should consider the economic impact of the ECRL project. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has cast doubts over the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s claim that it will be able to recover RM10 billion from the cancellation of the 20%-completed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

Lim reportedly said the sum represented payments made to the Chinese project contractor – China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) – totalling RM19.68 billion as advance and progressive payments up to Feb 15 this year.

Najib, however, said in a Facebook post that if the project was cancelled, Exim Bank of China would also cancel its loan and move to recover the sum paid.

“This project (ECRL) is funded by an ‘easy loan’ from Exim Bank of China and all payments of RM19.68 billion to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) so far are directly from the bank.

“If the project is cancelled now, the bank (Exim Bank of China) will cancel our loan and recover the loan.

“It is unlikely that Malaysia will recover the RM10 billion as this will be refunded to Exim Bank, but we will be required to repay the remaining RM9.6 billion which Exim Bank has already paid.

“Did the government take this into account and provide funds to make this payment?” Najib asked in the post.

He recalled that for several years, the PH government had said the RM55 billion ECRL project was overpriced and claimed that the real cost should only be RM30 billion.

“I have asked the PH government to provide proof of where the RM30 billion came from.

“From what scope and which year they found this figure.

“(Because) when we (Barisan Nasional administration) decided to pursue the ECRL project, we not only see the direct and indirect impact of economic development on the East Coast on the people.

“Beyond its cost, we also took into consideration the benefits of bilateral relations with China, including the increase in palm oil and other exports to China,” he said.

Najib said the benefits to the economy needed to be viewed comprehensively and not limited to only one project.

“We also took into account the increase of Chinese tourists to Malaysia and the money they bring to spend in the country. For example, last year, Chinese tourists brought in RM13 billion into this country.

“However, recently there was a 35% drop in the arrival of Chinese tourists and this may be because our relationship is no longer as close.

“At the same time, the arrival of Chinese tourists to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries in the region has increased during the ‘Golden Week’ holidays, but the numbers for our country declined.

The “Golden Week” holidays refer to the semi-annual 7-day national holiday in China.

“Why are we losing out when other countries are receiving (these) benefits?” Najib asked.

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