WITH the Kedah state government pursuing the Kulim International Airport (KXP), a Penang leader queried on whether was it necessary to spend billions on massive project given the economic fallout triggered by COVID-19.
“It appears that the KXP project is going to be realised after much delay but is it really a priority to build an airport, given our economic conditions?
“The project costs billions and the public must be informed of its full financial ramifications. We hope the project is pursued due to need, not because of political interests,” Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy told FocusM.
Yesterday, The Malay Mail Online reported that the Kedah state government had signed a joint venture agreement with ECK Group to build KXP.
Its menteri besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said that a special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be set up as its main owner and develop the project.
Under the scheme, ECK Group will own 80% of the SPV’s equity while the state government will own the rest, under the Kedah Development Corporation’s subsidiary, KXP AirportCity Holdings Sdn Bhd.
“We expect the KXP project will be fully completed by 2026 and after that we will be able to see huge changes to Kedah’s economic landscape,” Sanusi was reported saying.
Touching on the matter, Ramasamy queried on the need for Kedah to embark on such an expensive project, given its inability to fully settle it rural water supply debt to Putrajaya.
The Perai lawmaker was referring to Putrajaya decision to write-off Kedah’s rural water supply debt in March, amounting to RM699 mil.
According to Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the debt restricting exercise would reduce the state’s water supply debt from RM1.82 bil to RM1.12 bil, with the balance being taken over by Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB).
On that note, Ramasamy said that the Penang Airport was located not far away from Kulim, adding the airport was always busy and was sufficient to cater for the region.
“And we will like to know how ECK Group got hold of the project? Who else bid for the project? Was it done using an open tender system?” he asked.
Coming on the economic volatility, the DAP leader urged Sanusi to look into the welfare of Kedahans and not simply embark on grandiose project that may burden the state’s finances.
“Like many other major projects of the past, I hope that KXP does not burden the people at the end,” he remarked. – Aug 3, 2021