MP SPEAKS | Former finance minister Najib Abdul Razak deliberately confuses between land sold by the state government for revenue with land sold for national development and employment creation.
When I said that the Penang Pakatan government sold only 106 acres or 36 times less than the 3,661 acres of land sold by the previous BN government, I did not include land sold by both Pakatan and BN state government for development and employment creation.
For instance, land sold to multi-national corporations in the electronic sector, or for educational institutions or to bring in economic game-changers like Ikea in Batu Kawan by the Pakatan government or to establish the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone by the BN government, including the land reclamation opposite Pulau Jerejak.
These land sold for economic and national development were not included in our calculation, only those sold to collect revenue.
Najib is also wrong when he said that amongst the land sold by the Pakatan government under my administration as the Penang chief minister from 2008 to 2018, included lands for the purpose of the tunnels projects and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) where land reclamation rights were granted.
The tunnel projects referred to 1,000 acres of reclamation land near Gurney Drive were granted by the previous BN government and sold at RM1 per square feet and 10% of land granted to the state government.
As Penang chief minister, this 10% land offer was improved to 20% of land granted to the state government. As for the PTMP, the land reclamation rights has still not been approved by the relevant authorities and no monies or revenue have been collected.
Similarly, more than 1,600 acres of reclaimed land near Butterworth was sold by the previous BN government for only 5% of the reclaimed land to be given to the state government.
Again, the Pakatan government renegotiated and increased the price of reclaimed land for Butterworth from 5% to 35% or seven times more of land to be given to the state government.
Despite Pakatan selling 36 times less of land, Pakatan still received more money than BN because land sales were sold by open tender instead of direct negotiations as done by BN.
The revenue from land sales by the Pakatan government was used for affordable housing, leaving a remaining sum amounting to only 10.4% of state expenditure.
So, it is not true that state government revenue and surpluses came solely from land sales.
Najib tries to claim credit for Penang’s success in reducing our state government debts by 90% when the federal government took over Perbadanan Bekalan Air’s( PBA) water debts of RM655 million.
The federal government obtained PBA assets in exchange for taking over state government’s debts, a similar water-restructuring exercise conducted with other states.
Even though a similar water-restructuring exercise was carried out for other states, their state debts did not go down like Penang, that owes the least amongst all states.
As of April this year, the 13 state governments owe the Federal Government a total of RM17.64 billion. Of this, Pahang has the highest debt totalling RM3.12 billion while Penang has the lowest debt totalling RM60.2 million.
Is this not the administration of competency, accountability and transparency at work?
Unlike Najib, I will not resort to personal attacks but let facts and figures speak for themselves.
LIM GUAN ENG is the MP for Bagan as well as Finance Minister and DAP secretary-general.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.