The Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government is not going to provide a guarantee for a RM2.04 billion loan application by the Penang state government for its light rail transit (LRT) project.According to a report by The Edge Markets, Putrajaya has decided not to grant a government guarantee for the loan, which is to partly finance the RM9.5 billion project.It quoted Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz (above), who said that the decision was in line with the government's revised revenue and income projections for the country."Any new loan with a government guarantee should be scrutinised as much as possible, as it will increase the government's contingent liability. Unchecked increases in the government's contingent liability could increase fiscal risks and affect Malaysia's credit rating given by international rating agencies. "Therefore, it is prudent for the government to limit the exposure of government guarantees by reorganising projects according to priority and repayment capacity of the debt," he said.Zafrul reportedly said this in a parliamentary reply, in response to a question posed by DAP MP for Tanjong, Chow Kon Yeow. Chow is also the Penang chief minister.According to the finance minister, the loan would increase the federal government's commitment to operation and development expenditure.This, he said, is on top of other off-budget projects borne by the government such as the MRT Line 1 and 2, LRT3, the Pan Borneo Sarawak Highway, and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).He said that as of Sept 30, the total value of government guarantees shouldered by Putrajaya was RM289.8 billion.This was 20.1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).The news report stated that the Penang state government wanted to form a special purpose vehicle to issue bonds so that they can raise funds to pay for the project.Chow reportedly said that without a guarantee from Putrajaya, the state government would not be able to raise enough bonds.
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