‘FEDERAL GOVT HELPED PENANG’
Blogger says CM’s answers confirm state’s debt reduced by Federal Govt
PENANG Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday confirmed that Penang’s debt reduction is due to the Federal Government, but called Minister in the Prime Minister ’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan “childish” for being jealous of the state’s success in having zero outstanding debt payment arrears.
In a tit-for-tat move, Lim said Rahman was attempting to claim credit that the Federal Government was responsible for the reduction in Penang’s debts.
On Tuesday, Rahman told the Penang government to be honest and cancel the water-restructuring deal with the Federal Government if it wanted to claim credit for the state’s debt reduction.
Rahman, who is also Barisan Nasional strategic comunications director, had said 95 per cent of the debt reduction was made possible by the Federal Government in a water-restructuring agreement in 2011, when the Federal Government agreed to convert RM655.24 million in water debt to 45 annual lease payments of RM14.56 million by the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).
He had also said that in the same agreement, the Federal Government had agreed to give a RM1.2 billion grant to the state government to expand the Mengkuang Dam, and a “big proportion” of the funds had been disbursed to the state government.
Blogger Lim Sian See said Lim’s answers to Rahman “essentially confirm beyond any doubt that the state debt was reduced by the Federal Government”.
Sian See said unlike Penang, other states did not boast about the debt reduction due to Federal Government water deals, citing Perak as an example, which actually reduced its state debt by 99 per cent.
“Also, I noticed that the chief minister was silent on the RM1.2 billion grant.
“If the 2011 agreement is cancelled, then Penang’s state debt would not be reduced by 95 per cent, but it will triple as they have to take back the 95 per cent debt worth RM655 million as well as pay back RM1.2 billion in grants given by the Federal Government.
“At the end of the day, the chief minister chickened out from the challenge to cancel the 2011 agreement and decided to give strange answers,” Sian See said on his Facebook page.
In response to Rahman, Lim had said the state government and PBAPP had no help from the Federal Government, when all debt repayments were made on time, adding that Rahman should not have behaved childishly.
“Will the Federal Government then cancel all the water-restructuring deals for all states, return water assets taken by the Federal Government back to the states, as well as push through a constitutional amendment now approved by the Federal Parliament and all state assemblies to undo the 2005 Federal Constitutional amendment and return back the power of ‘water supplies and services’ back to the state list?”Lim said.