Friday, June 5, 2009

PKFZ scandal – how the cost rose from RM1.9bn to RM7.5bn, and counting

My Maxis is still Max-sick. 8 days after the problems began, one whole week after my first report, Max-sick engineers are “still working on it”. What a clueless bunch. On the other hand, thanks DiGi! Your broadband service has been fast and reliable.

Back to the main subject of this posting, Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ). Last week, I summarized the story and gave a big picture view of how the cost grew and grew. This week, we shall delve into how those costs actually got added in, and who the beneficiaries were.

Let’s start with just the cost for land purchase and development works. These were originally estimated at RM1.957bn in 2001. As at 31 Dec 2008, that had ballooned by RM1.565bn or 80% to RM3.522bn.

How did that additional RM1.565bn cost happen? First, purchasing the land cost RM646m more than it should have. Port Klang Authority (PKA) paid private company Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) RM1,088m for the land via a negotiated direct purchase. It could have compulsorily acquired it, as originally directed by the Ministry of Finance, for RM442m.

That leaves another RM919m to explain (RM1,565m–RM646m=RM919m). That’s mainly due to additional development works and accelerating construction so that the project was completed in just 2 years instead of phasing it in in such a way that it could be self-financing as approved by the Cabinet. PKA was in such a hurry that it signed development agreements based on estimated amounts and without detailed building plans. Effectively, PKA told KDSB, we have money to spend, just build whatever you want and we’ll take it!

So, land and construction costs alone became RM3.522bn. On top of that, because PKA committed to paying KDSB more than it could afford from current cash flows, it agreed to deferred payment terms and had to resort to soft loans from the government. The interest cost of all those deferred payments and soft loans now totals RM3.931bn. Add that to the construction cost and you get the RM7,453bn total as of now.

The deferred payment terms to KDSB are another issue. PKA has to pay 7.5% pa interest to KDSB. Being a statutory body, PKA could have itself raised government-guaranteed debt at 4% pa and paid KDSB cash, saving 3.5% pa of interest payments. On the RM3.522bn development cost, 3.5% is equivalent to RM123m per year of additional payments. The beneficiary? KDSB!

So, who’s behind KDSB? KDSB is wholly-owned by Wijaya Baru Holdings Sdn Bhd (WBHSB). The major shareholder of WBHSB with a 70% stake is Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Barisan Nasional MP for Bintulu. Tiong, by the way, is also the chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club – the club for BN MPs. I don’t know who owns the other 30% in WBHSB.

KDSB did not keep all the profits itself. Its main contractor was Wijaya Baru Sdn Bhd (WBSB). WBSB is 45%-owned by Wijaya Baru Global Berhad, which in turn is 32%-owned by Tiong. I don’t have the details of the other shareholders. Wijaya Baru Global’s chairman is Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Zabidi, former UMNO treasurer. Azim is also a board member of KDSB. Wijaya Baru Global’s deputy CEO is UMNO Kapar deputy division chief Datuk Faisal Abdullah.

So there you have it. The cost over-runs and some of the beneficiaries. The police and MACC have been awfully quiet about any investigations so far. Perhaps they are too busy watching Men in Black.

1 comment:

Purple Haze said...

Can we assume that PKA did not want to raise the funds via govt-g'teed bonds to avoid being vetted by the Treasury?

After all, it would have saved RM 123 million a year, which any business student can tell you makes good economic sense.