12
Aug
17

ECRL folly bound to fail and burden the nation

ECRL folly bound to fail and burden the nation

COMMENT | The East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) is being touted to Malaysians as a world-class “game changer” which will accelerate development in the East Coast states of Peninsular Malaysia. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that it will do so, and the rationale for such claims are dubious, to say the least.

We have been told that RM55 billion is being invested in ECRL, which will be completed by 2024. All over the world, such mega-projects are notorious for cost overruns, and there is no reason to believe that this project will be the exception to the rule.

The justification for the ECRL is that it will carry almost 60 million tonnes of freight yearly by 2035. This is incredible because even KTM only carries about 6 million tonnes per annum with its current nationwide network. If the projected massive surge in freight tonnage does not materialise, the project will lose even more, meaning that taxpayers for generations to come will have to massively subsidise the ECRL.

ECRL is supposed to greatly benefit the country in so many incredible ways as to defy simple logic. But will there be enough passenger traffic to support a high-speed rail link? What kind of cargo needs such a costly high-speed haulage connection. And which high-speed railway in the world stimulates so many businesses and jobs in all the towns it will pass through, as claimed.

Will the ECRL be an expensive ‘white elephant’ paid for by Malaysians for many years to come? The Kemaman-Kuantan rail link, completed several years ago, has hardly been used to date. Are we supposed to be thankful that it cost much less than the ECRL?

Even Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the libertarian chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) who endorsed the Forest City project in Johor Baru, found the ECRL claims difficult to swallow in a recent article arguing for improved governance generally, especially to manage investments from China.

Honest critics are already being accused of wanting to deprive the East Coast states of development. But those with longer memories know how much Kelantan has been deprived of federal funds by Putrajaya, while Terengganu has been denied petroleum revenues and its investment fund was ‘hijacked’ to become the now notorious 1MDB.

China firms to profit

Of course, the deal will be good for some Chinese state-owned enterprises. The contract was given to the China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) after direct negotiations, without any open tender, although Malaysian companies have delivered on rail projects before. CCCC will be required to subcontract to local firms, but will remain the main contractor.

As we should have learnt from earlier arrangements, foreign firms find ways and means to bring their preferred partners in with them, using local partners to fulfil such requirements as meaningful technology transfer. The international success of Ingress (e.g., in Rayong, the ‘Detroit of Thailand’) contrasts sharply with the minimal development of Malaysian technological capacity and capabilities by many other Proton vendors due to their (mainly Japanese) principals’ practices.

The ECRL will be funded by a loan from China’s state-owned Exim Bank, with the Malaysian government, i.e., taxpayers, serving as guarantor. Thus, the risk and liability will be completely borne by Malaysia.

So, Malaysia will essentially be borrowing money from a China bank to pay a China company to build ECRL. Very little of the loan will get to Malaysia as the Exim Bank loan will be used to pay CCCC. Malaysians will bear all the risks for ECRL while the China firms are guaranteed profits by Malaysians.

Whether or not the ECRL is profitable, we will still have to repay the loan with interest. Malaysia does not have to pay during the first seven years, but after that, we have to settle it within two decades. So financially, this is essentially a loan for which we Malaysians will exclusively bear all the risks.

…more
ECRL folly bound to fail and burden the nation
Jomo KS
11 Aug 2017 – malaysiakini

Advertisements

0 Responses to “ECRL folly bound to fail and burden the nation”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

Archives


%d bloggers like this: