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Malaysia's Auditor-General points to billion dollar cost overrun in train project

Published on Oct 15, 2012 2:36 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s annual audit report released yesterday listed a familiar litany of hefty wastage in public spending, including a RM3.6 billion (S$1.4 billion) cost overrun in the building of a double-track railway line.

The Auditor-General's Report also highlighted overspending in several other infrastructure projects like a bridge in Kelantan and rural roads in Sarawak.

The report, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday, is often used as ammunition by the opposition to attack the ruling Barisan Nasional government. Last year, it was this report which highlighted the missed targets of a national cattle farming project run by the family of the ruling Umno party's women’s chief Sharizat Abdul Jalil.

That scandal eventually forced Ms Shahrizat to resign from her ministerial post and her husband was charged in court.

This year, among others, the Auditor-General noted a RM3.6 billion cost overrun in the building of a long-delayed double-track railway line that runs northwards from Ipoh in Perak to Malaysia's border with Thailand.

 Auditor-General Ambrin Buang said that apart from the original contract value of RM12.5 billion, the Transport Ministry has to spend another RM3.6 billion.

Of that, RM2.41 billion are interest costs arising from a loan to fund the project.

The 329km railway line was to have been completed in January next year but has been delayed to June 2014, due to delays in land acquisition.

"I hope this report will form a basis for improving the weaknesses, strengthening efforts and enhancing accountability and integrity," the Auditor-General said.

Read the full story in Tuesday's The Straits Times