Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Don’t use Agong’s name to justify jet purchase, says PKR

BY JENNIFER GOMEZ

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli disclosed that the new government jet, an Airbus ACJ320, costs more than RM465 million. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 17, 2015.

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli disclosed that the new government jet, an Airbus ACJ320, costs more than RM465 million. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 17, 2015. 
The Prime Minister’s Department should not use the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and state rulers to justify its purchase of a new private jet, said a PKR lawmaker today.
Its secretary-general, Rafizi Ramli, said that the statement by the department yesterday in explaining the purchase by saying it would also be used by the Agong was irresponsible.
"The people can differentiate how many times the Agong was involved in official trips overseas compared with the prime minister," he said at the Parliament lobby today.
Rafizi challenged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to detail every trip made on the private jets owned by the government and who used them.
Rafizi said Putrajaya’s claim that the purchase was a cost-saving move was baseless as the new jet cost RM465.4 million.
Yesterday, Rafizi revealed that Putrajaya had ordered a new private jet for Najib's use, bringing the current tally of jets owned by the government to seven.
He said the new Airbus ACJ320 was secured through a direct negotiation hire-purchase deal with Jet Premier One, the same company handling the current Airbus ACJ319 jet used by the prime minister, which was secured for RM28.8 million yearly in hire purchase and RM5.5 million in yearly maintenance cost, excluding the cost of fuel.
"Even the 1Malaysia logo has been painted on it. This shows the Najib administration is continuing with its wasteful ways, just as the people are shocked to find out about the 1MDB scandal," Rafizi had said yesterday. 
The Prime Minister's Department subsequently defended the purchase of a new private jet for Najib.
It said the government decided to buy the jet through a hire-purchase agreement for 15 years to replace an older jet because of maintenance costs and safety concerns.
The older aircraft, a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) will be disposed of to finance the purchase of the new jet, the statement said.
It added that the decision to purchase a new plane was made two years ago in view of the increasing costs required to maintain the older aircraft.
"The purchase of the ACJ320 for the government executive fleet of aircraft will help to reduce operational, management and maintenance costs in view of the fact that we already own an ACJ319," the statement said.
The ACJ319 is the current aircraft commonly used by the prime minister.
Today, Rafizi showed one page of the purported hire-purchase document for the new Airbus ACJ320 jet from Jet Premier One.
He promised to reveal more of what was in the agreement in the days to come.
Rafizi said Putrajaya had paid a US$20 million deposit on the RM465.4 million jet. He said the rest would be paid in monthly instalments over the next 15 years.
The Pandan MP said that the US$20 million was equivalent to RM65.22 million, based on the exchange rate in December last year at RM3.261, when the deal was signed and sealed.
However, he said, the exchange rate now was about RM3.70, which meant that the government would have to pay more to make up for the depreciation of the ringgit.
He said that the instalment amount was US$679,894 a month, which is equivalent to RM2.22 million monthly for 15 years.
"As such, the final cost would be much higher than RM465.4 million.
"I'm sure no Malaysian will agree to spending nearly half a billion ringgit of public funds when they are still flood victims in Kelantan living in tents," he said.
He also asked why Najib could not use national carrier Malaysia Airlines, which needed support now more than ever.
He said even Singapore's prime minister flew commercial.
"So why can't our prime minister fly commercial? Unless he is having meetings in the plane every day, which I doubt is the case," Rafizi said.
He also said that the cost of the hire purchase did not include operations and maintenance costs, which was set out in a separate agreement with Jet Premier One.
Rafizi also said that the department contention that it needed to replace the Boeing Business Jet was not acceptable.
"A commercial Boeing can be used for 20 to 25 years if maintenance is done according schedule.
"But the government Business Jet is only 16 years old and is not used as often as a commercial jet.”
Rafizi urged Najib to come clean and not use his officers in the PM's Department to avoid answering the issue. – March 17, 2015.  
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/dont-use-agongs-name-to-justify-jet-purchase-says-pkr#sthash.aePG0dvm.dpuf

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