Pua questions why BNM’s RM2b govt land buy not at nominal rate

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 7, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition lawmaker Tony Pua yesterday questioned why Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim did not apply to buy a 55.79-acre (22.58ha) land from the government at a nominal rate as with most non-commercial land acquisitions.

“This is especially since the education hub is not a commercial venture,” Pua, member of parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP national publicity secretary, said in a statement.

“Land acquired for public universities is usually transferred at a nominal rate, while the land purchased by BNM works out to approximately RM823 per sq ft,” he added.

Pua also pointed to 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) earlier acquisition of more than 500 acres of land from the federal government, saying the deal was transacted at “nominal or heavily discounted value for commercial purposes”.

He was referring to The Edge Financial Daily’s report on Monday quoting Muhammad as saying BNM’s acquisition of a piece of land near the central bank here from the government for its financial education hub for RM2 billion was an “arm’s length agreement”.

“Why should it be [an] arm’s length in the first place when the land is not intended for Bank Negara to make a profit?” Pua asked.

He also noted the timing of the transaction and payment coincided with 1MDB’s second loan instalment of US$600 million to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co at the end of last year.