Liow tells MAHB to shed light on PAC findings of cost overruns at klia2

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 22): The Transport Ministry today urged Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd (MAHB) to shed light on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)'s findings on klia2's RM2.3 billion cost overruns.

"It is and has always been the responsibility of MAHB as owner and manager of klia2 to engage with the PAC and respond in a transparent manner. 

"MAHB must take the necessary action to shed light on the findings of the PAC and I expect them to resolve this as quickly as possible," said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in a media release today.

Liow's statement was in response to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua's claims that Liow was ignoring PAC's findings of cost overruns at klia2 as well as the PAC's recommendation that the ministry instruct Auditor-General (A-G) Tan Sri Ambrin Buang to further audit the project.

"I have, from the onset, backed the PAC's call for the A-G to conduct further investigations into the management of the construction and development of klia2. I agree that the Malaysian public have the right to demand answers on this matter. 

"Towards this end, seeing that MAHB is a listed entity, Cabinet needed to approve the involvement of the A-G to conduct the audit. The Ministry of Transport fully supported the move to audit klia2 in Cabinet, which has granted approval. The A-G will be requested to undertake the task," added Liow in the same statement.

He also said he did not dispute that additional costs were incurred in the construction of klia2, but defended the cost overruns as "the result of the scope and requirements in facilities and size, which were reviewed and extended given additional needs of key stakeholders".

It was initially reported that the airport that would service low-cost carriers would cost RM1.7 billion. The cost rose to RM2 billion in March 2009, then to RM2.5 billion in October 2010. In October 2012, Parliament was told that the cost of the airport had ballooned to RM4 billion.

The airport on May 2 last year after several delays from its initial completion date on Sept 2011 due to design changes and extensive earthworks.

On Nov 25 last year, PAC reportedly found that the cost overruns at klia2 were a resulf of MAHB's alleged ineptitude in considering the needs of budget airlines, and that it did not have the experience to build an airport of that size.

But Liow had, on May 19, claimed that klia2 had never experienced any cost overruns.

"Actually, the klia2 project has never experienced cost overruns. The cost of the project increased because of an additional scope due to the new design concept for klia2, or the specific needs of the stakeholders like airlines and the government," he had told Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz (DAP-Raub) in a written reply in Parliament that day, according to The Malaysian Insider.

Pua, who is also DAP national publicity chief, subsequently lambasted Liow on the latter's alleged denial of cost overruns.

MAHB (valuation: 1.4; fundamental: 1) closed 11 sen or 1.71% higher at RM6.53 today, with a market capitalisation of RM10.8 billion.

(Note: The Edge Research's fundamental score reflects a company's profitability and balance sheet strength, calculated based on historical numbers. The valuation score determines if a stock is attractively valued or not, also based on historical numbers. A score of 3 suggests strong fundamentals and attractive valuations.)