KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking forward to the increased economic activities that can be generated from the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), instead of reviewing the cost of the project, which has already been renegotiated, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.
“I think what is important is for us to focus on how we properly implement the memorandum of agreement (MoA) between Malaysian Investment Development Authority and Chinese contractor China Communications Construction Co, in the different details that have been spelt out in the agreement.
“Let us look forward to the increased economic activities that we can generate as a result of this enhanced ECRL MoA, that is also jointly monitored by the Malaysian government and our Chinese counterparts, ” he said at the sidelines of the local launch of the Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors report.
Ong was responding to comments from the former Council of Eminent Persons’ member and economist Professor Jomo Kwame Sundram, who had called for the government to re-examine the ECRL project once again, after a witness in the 1MDB trial testified in court that the project was a possible bailout.
Ong added that there should be sustainable financing and operation models for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, such as the ECRL.
As iterated in the MoA of the ECRL, two industrial parks will be built, one on the east coast and another on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
In addition, transit-oriented developments and logistics hub will be built at a minimum of seven key stations along the ECRL.
These measures in place shall increase economic activities that will make the ECRL sustainable.
According to the findings of the Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors report by the World Bank Group, China’s BRI could speed up economic development and reduce poverty for dozens of developing countries.
However, this initiative must be accompanied by deep policy reforms that increase transparency, improve debt sustainability, as well as mitigate environmental, social and corruption risks.