Lim Guan Eng should provide details of his claim: Penang Gerakan chairman
KUALA LUMPUR: Penang Gerakan chief Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan has criticised Lim Guan Eng for using the Federal Government debt restructuring exercise to claim credit in cutting down the state’s debt by 95 per cent.
Dr Teng (pic), when contacted by The Mole said if it is not for the debt restructuring exercise for the water deal, the Penang Government would still be in debts with the Federal Government.
“As far as I am concerned, the restructuring helped the state government to settle its outstanding loan for 45 years. Under the agreement, this repayment will be an interest-free loan while Mengkuang Dam project will be converted to a grant,” he said.
“I do not know what debts-cut Lim actually talked about,” Dr Teng said, adding that it would be better if the Chief Minister could provide the details to support his claim.
Dr Teng admitted that Penang government previously had some outstanding loans for the water development and sewerage treatment projects.
Dismissing Lim’s statement as just another publicity stunt, Dr Teng said, “If indeed Penang state government had managed to find its own fund to settle all the debts, they would make sure everyone in the country and even the world to know about it.”
“People need to be more aware of his statement. He has been talking about how Penang government had been marginalised by the Federal Government without actually telling the truth, such as in this case.”
A source from Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) confirmed that Penang state government had agreed to the debt restructuring over the water agreement which saw an exchange for a complete restructuring of Penang’s RM 655.24 million outstanding federal loans.
However the source said the basis of Lim’s claim could not be determined as the details were under the jurisdiction of Penang government and Finance Ministry.
Yesterday bloggers, SatD and Jebat Must Diehad refuted Lim’s claim of cutting 95 per cent of Penang’s debt by pointing out that it was only possible due to the Federal Government's debt restructuring exercise.
Jebat Must Die wrote that back in June this year, as a result of Lim's own poor leadership, he sought help from the Federal Government to re-categorise most of the state’s debt into a Federal grant.
The Malaysian Insider on Wednesday quoted Lim as saying that the Penang state government “has sliced RM600 million or 95 per cent of the state’s debt since the Pakatan Rakyat took over the state in March 2008."
Lim was further quoted as saying that the state debt as of September 2011 was RM29.66 million, in contrast to RM630.13 million in 2007.
“With such glowing figures in the black,” the article said, “the Johor-born DAP leader could not help but point to his political foes helming Putrajaya which saw the national debt grow as much as RM190 billion or 71 per cent within the same period.”
Jebat Must Die further wrote the Federal Government had "helped...Guan Eng to re-classify his embarrassingly huge state debts into an interest-free lease arrangement."
"Sliced 95% of state debts and then proceeded to criticise the Federal Government? What kind of a human being are you Lim Guan Eng?" the blogger said.
SatD who was the first to highlight on the issue published an article from The Edge Financial Daily on Penang’s state government agreement to the water restructuring exercise which saw the state’s outstanding loan of RM655.24 million from the federal government will be interest-free and rationalised by alienating state land-related water assets to PAAB for a period 45 years.
The article also read: “PAAB will lease back the water assets to PBAPP for 45 years and PBAPP shall pay PAAB a yearly lease of RM 14.56 million. Upon settlement of the lease at the end of 45 years, the state land will automatically revert to the state..."
The RM14.56 million annual lease for 45 years will bring the total sum to RM655.2 million.
PBAPP is the state-owned Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang while PAAB is Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd, a company under the Ministry of Finance.
Thus, SatD wrote, “you (Guan Eng) should say thank you to the federal government.”