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GEORGE TOWN, Feb 17 — Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) projects, including the controversial Penang South Reclamation (PSR), have been identified as one of the key recovery drivers for Penang, said state exco Zairil Khir Johari.
The Infrastructure and Transport Committee chairman said PTMP projects will inject domestic direct investment into the local economy besides creating new jobs and catalysing future growth and foreign investment.
He said the state has formed a Penang Socio-Economic Recovery Consultative Council (PSERCC) which is chaired by the Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
"This Council, which is made up of representatives from both government and industry, oversees the efforts towards recovery across various sectors," he said in a statement in response to calls by Penang Gerakan for the PTMP to be suspended until the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
The implementation of the PTMP projects were among the key recovery drivers identified by PSERCC, he added.
Zairil said Penang Gerakan chairman Oh Tong Keong's suggestion that the state should suspend the mega project so that it can focus on fighting Covid-19 was shallow with little understanding of the pandemic’s impact.
"Would he consider surviving the pandemic a success if we allow our society and our economy to collapse?" he asked.
While he admitted that the provision of medical care, social aid and economic assistance is important, the state government will also have to ensure the state's economy survives the pandemic.
"Adverse economic repercussions such as unemployment, business closures and market capital deficiency have to be addressed," he said.
He said this was why the PSERCC was formed and that even Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz has said the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects is a priority measure to stimulate the economy.
Zairil said Oh should have urged Putrajaya to reinstate all the major infrastructure projects in Penang that have been cancelled such as the Penang Hill cable car project and the loan guarantee for the development of the Light Rail Transit project in Penang.