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The cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) may exceed RM66 billion. Pic by FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Daim Zainuddin believes that the actual cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) could exceed RM66 billion.

Daim, who heads the newly-formed Council of Eminent Persons, says the figures stated by the previous administration were “incorrect.”

He said the first phase alone was RM55 billion, and this does not include the construction of the second phase, which involves a cost of RM11 billion.

“Factored in with interest and others, there is a possibility that the cost is much higher,” he told a press conference on Friday.

Daim, who is former Finance Minister, said the new figure was derived based on meetings over the last six days with the relevant government-linked companies and related government-linked investment companies, as well Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd.

Tun Daim Zainuddin listens to a question during a press conference in Menara Ilham. Pic by ASYRAF HAMZAH

“We are faced with the possibility that the repayment is more than what was stated before, as 85 per cent of mega project is financed by Exim Bank China, which is charging an interest rate of 3.25 per cent,” he said.

On concerns over Malaysia’s credit ratings, Daim said he does not place too much importance on the subject.

“I don’t pay too much attention to ratings. Even when our credit ratings were reduced in 1998, I was not overly concerned.

“What we need to be concerned about is the next 10 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Daim said the Council of Eminent Persons is expected to further discuss the fuel subsidy, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Sales and Services Tax (SST) and the abolition of road tolls in a series of meetings to be held next week.

He said the council would meet with companies owned by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, including Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), and the Inland Revenue Board.

On the removal of toll charges, Daim said the outcome would only be finalised after the CEP meets all stakeholders, and reiterated that the council would honour Pakatan Harapan's manifesto, which was to abolish toll collection.

Commenting on the country’s fiscal policies, he said that the numbers that were reported cannot be manipulated as they are the accounts (that reflected the growth numbers).

“On how sound our fiscal policies are, we have to call the Ministry of Finance and get the current situation (of the country’s economic performance) ... until then i wouldn’t know,” Daim said.

To a question related to the budget deficit, he said that the council would gather information and data before making any conclusion on the state’s economy performance.--Report by Nurhayati Abllah; Farah Adilla; Tasnim Lokman and Fahmy Azril Rosli

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