Penang to Prasarana: Why are you refusing our money?

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PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) could reduce its financial losses if it accepted annual funds of RM10 million from the Penang government to provide free bus services.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng called on Prasarana group managing director Datuk Shahril Mokhtar to explain why the company “continuously and consistently” refused to accept the money.

The RM10 million, Lim explained, would have given 1.6 million Penangites free bus rides from 6pm to 9am and from 4.30pm to 8.30pm.

“The refusal to accept money to help increase public transport usage in Penang is not only irrational and unprofessional but also irresponsible,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Lim was commenting on Shahril’s justification following revelations in the 2012 Auditor-General’s Report that seven government-linked corporations (GLCs), including Prasarana, rewarded their employees with bonuses despite recording combined losses amounting to RM2 billion in 2011.

Shahril had stated that the company was providing public services and operating under government-controlled tariffs which could not be increased to reflect rising costs.

He clarified that of the RM763 million in losses, RM400 million was depreciation cost and RM300 million financing cost due to heavy investment in public transportation.

Lim said that DAP supported annual bonuses for government employees to help them reduce the high cost of living, and no one questioned those who received a one-month bonus.

The issue, he said, would not be controversial if the GLCs were making profits.

“But why should the staff working for GLCs receive more if they were making losses just like the federal government which suffers from heavy budget deficit?” the DAP secretary-general quizzed.Prasarana is responsible for the LRT and Monorail systems, and also operates the RapidKL and RapidPenang bus service.For more stories, go to www.fz.com, the website for freedom of expression and fairness in articulation.This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 14, 2013.