Mega infrastructure projects involving foreigners bane for local businesses - Azmin

Mega infrastructure projects involving foreign contractors that are putting a major strain on the nation's finances will only benefit foreigners and not the people and local businesses, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said.

He said the status of these projects was deliberated at the country's fiscal development meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday morning.

"We are studying them. Some may be scrapped. Some will be suspended until the economy recovers," he said in an interview on TV1 last night.

However, he stressed that people-centric projects like roads, bridges and electricity would continue.

Dr Mahathir had stated that the government was studying whether to postpone or seek other means to implement the East Coast Rail Line project.

As for the High-Speed ​​Rail project, Malaysia will negotiate a deferment of the project with the Singapore government.

In another development, Azmin said the role of some agencies needed to be scrutinised as they had deviated from their original agenda.

“What had happened is that their management is more interested in other things so much so that their goals are not reaching the target groups," he said, adding that the review is also important to reduce the high cost of operations.

Azmin also expressed the need to bridge the gap between the bumiputera elite group and bottom 40 percent of household income group (B40) which was widening.

He said according to statistics in 2014, inter-racial individual income was about the same as it accounted for one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.

However, among bumiputera, the earnings of the top 20 per cent income earners (T20) is 2.5 times more than that of the B40 group, he said, adding that, “If this problem (income disparity) is not addressed, it will create an unconducive environment."

The interview also highlighted the Bumiputera Economic Congress set for Saturday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It is expected to be opened by the prime minister and attended by about 2,000 bumiputera stakeholders.

- Bernama

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