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Chow: No truth to bloated fee claim

GEORGE TOWN: The controversy continues over the three road projects which Barisan Nasional claimed Penang overpaid on consultancy fees.

Pakatan Harapan leaders chose to stay silent over the matter while state government leaders refuted the allegation.

Penang Local Government Com-mittee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the allegation that the state had paid four times higher than the standardised gazetted scale of fee for professional engineering consultancy was untrue.

“The civil and structural consultation fee was only RM64.3mil and not RM177.5mil as thought by Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

“Besides consultation fee, the RM177.5mil mentioned by Abdul Rahman was also used for 10 other job scopes,” said Chow at a press conference after visiting the Yayasan Belia Buddhist Malaysia head office in Seang Tek Road yesterday.

The job scopes included land survey, detailed environmental impact assessment, land tunnel design, architectural design and social impact study.

Chow said the RM41mil consultation fee calculated by the Board of Engineers of Malaysia (BEM) was just 75% of the total consultation fee.

“The board allows only 75% of the payment to be made before con-struction starts, but the state decided to make the full payment of RM64.3mil.

“If the state government used the same calculation, 75% of the consultation fee was just RM48.2mil and the complete fee was RM54.7mil.

“Therefore, the fee paid by the state was about 17% more than the maximum allowed under the gazetted scale of fees and not 400% more.”

Chow also explained that the 17% difference was due to the reimbursable costs and other studies such as the road safety audit and other fees under Registration of Engineers Act 1967.

State Works, Transportation and Utilities Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said he had written to the board on Friday to arrange for a meeting.

Also present were Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penang Transport Master Plan’s Special Purpose Vehicle chief engineer Datuk Ang Aing Thye.

Previously, Barisan strategic communications team led by Abdul Rahman provided documents to BEM stating that payments by the state government for consultancy fees for the three main roads project was 400% above standard rates.

When contacted, PKR supreme council member Tian Chua told The Star Online yesterday that he was unable to verify the allegations made by Barisan.

“There is no way I can verify what he said is correct. I suppose he should show proof. He is in the government.

“Go to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and try to find legal means to take action.”

Penang Institute head of Kuala Lumpur branch Ong Kian Ming said he was “not in the position to answer”.

The question should be directed to the Penang government, he added.

Other Opposition leaders including PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi Ramli, DAP’s Teresa Kok, Zaid Ibrahim and Tony Pua as well as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir also refused to comment on the issue despite being contacted by phone and WhatsApp.