GEORGE TOWN, 31 May: A loan obtained from China will be used as bridging finance for the RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the finance gap was expected to be RM2 billion with the state having to contribute RM1 billion and SRS Consortium, the PTMPT Project Delivery Partner (PDP), the other RM1 billion.
He said a gap existed as reclaiming land off the south coast of Penang island would take about two years to complete.
Lim said the money would be needed to fund the shortfall in between the time the land is reclaimed and sold to fund the PTMP.
He said borrowing from a country incurred lower interest rates compared to borrowing from a commercial bank.
“It is bridging finance which we need,” he said in a press conference yesterday and drew a graph on a whiteboard to illustrate his point.
The Penang government is now allowed to take loans after the state legislature passed the State of Penang Loan (Bank and Other Financial Source) Enactment 2017 last week.
The passage of the law, however, is being questioned as critics are wondering why the state needs to borrow money if the PTMP was to be funded by land reclamation.
On obtaining a loan from the federal government instead, Lim appeared to cast doubt if such a loan was obtainable.
He said it was already difficult to obtain approval for the PTMP much less a loan.
“Let us do realistic things, don’t dream of things which will not happen if we keep on dreaming the LRT (Light Rail Transit) will not happen,” he added.
On tapping into the RM1.6 billion state reserves to fund the gap, Lim said the state needs a reserve margin to fund bridging gaps for other smaller projects.
“We have to have funds to bridge the finance gap for other smaller projects and other contingencies,” he added.
— THE SUN