LEADER OF OPPOSITION
I view with great concern the latest reports on the progress of Bakun Dam project because of the large exposure of public fund already committed to the project.
Based on reports, the total cost is set to balloon further as the project is plagued with further delays. Even as of today, it is reported that the dam had reached RM7.3 billion in cost and was funded largely by RM5.75 billion loans from Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen (KWAP); both guaranteed by the Federal Government.
The continuous lackadaisical attitude of the Prime Minister to limit the exposure of public funds committed to Bakun Dam is in stark contrast to his strong opinion on the immediate removal of subsidies on sugar and fuel, albeit the targeted savings pale in comparison to the total amount of public funds wasted on Bakun Dam so far.
The RM750 million that the Prime Minister hopes to save from the reduction in subsidies is approximately 10% of the total cost of Bakun Dam. The same project had seen a monumental estimated loss of RM450 million to Sime Darby in the financial year of 2010; on top of a compensation of RM900 million previously made by the government to Sime Darby. The total compensation and loss suffered by Sime Darby on this project alone can easily pay for various measures that can alleviate the burden of the people when the subsidies on fuel and sugar were reduced.
This week, the nation is greeted with another shocker – Bakun Dam is facing another series of delays that will escalate the costs further. Reports also point to problematic negotiations between the Federal and Sarawak governments, which may involve a potential RM2 billion loss that Federal government has to absorb when it transfers the dam to the state government.
Who will pay for the RM2 billion potential losses arising from the project? Will the Prime Minister instruct EPF and KWAP to quietly write off a part of the RM5.75 billion loans to Bakun Dam to hide the losses from the public?
Bakun Dam is a story spanning a decade that illustrates the double standard practised by Barisan Nasional when it comes to subsidies. In the eyes of Barisan Nasional, a 20 sen subsidy for every kilogram of sugar is a heavy burden on the state coffers, yet it dishes out corporate subsidies to the tune of billion of ringgit without a slight sense of guilt.
I urge the Prime Minister to take charge and come clean on the Bakun’s financial woes and its impact on the public funds once and for all. The ministers tasked with the delivery of this project must come forward with full accountability to justify why RM2 billion of potential losses should be absorbed by the public.
The public has the right to know especially when they are asked to tighten the belt to assist the state coffers.
The government should tell the truth on how they, the government going to cover this lost, the peoples have their rights to know. The government also must tell the peoples how or where they going to get the sources to finance all the dams that they have in planned. The burden shouldn’t be put on the peoples. It is obviously extraordinary when the government still enthusiastic on building more dams despite of this lost. Is this lost still not enough?