Pua: Govt studying many new infrastructure projects, earlier freeze to fix inflated costs

Tony Pua is pictured at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya February 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tony Pua is pictured at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya February 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — The government is studying multiple infrastructure projects for implementation to ensure value for money, the Finance Ministry said.

Tony Pua, political secretary to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, said the government’s previous suspension of projects was merely to address the overly-inflated costs, adding that those shown to be feasible will be rolled out in future, The Star reported today.

“There will be plenty more infrastructure projects that the government is looking at currently,” he was quoted as saying.

Pua said the government’s stance is that infrastructure “needs to be built”.

“And the new government’s position is that it should be value for money so that it can generate the maximum possible returns for taxpayers’ funds, as well as maximum multiplier on the economy,” he said.

He said the suspension of major projects in the past year was not because the Pakatan Harapan government was not keen on infrastructure projects, “but more to do with the overly inflated cost of infrastructure in Malaysia”.

Some of those projects were later reviewed and given the greenlight to proceed at a lower cost, he added.

Pua said the new government was changing the approach used by the Barisan Nasional administration of announcing a project before conducting feasibility studies, noting that the most cost-effective method would instead be identified first under the new approach.

He cited the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) project in the Klang Valley as a “good example”.

“In the past, when the government wanted to build the MRT, they would get someone to propose the project and then give the contract to the developers to manage it. That was how it was before,” Pua was quoted as saying.

He said the government would this time want to get consultants to measure the most optimal alignment where it would cost the least, before passing it on to developers to execute.

“That’s the best way to get value for money for the government, and that’s how it’s done in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong,” he added.

He said the government will review the current public-private partnership model where the government sometimes bear most of the risks for projects, adding that the model will be restructured to have the risks shared by both the government and private sector.

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