Penang happy MAHB proceeding with airport expansion

GEORGE TOWN (July 3): The Penang state government welcomed the announcement by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that it will be proceeding with the expansion of Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.

Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, said that he believed all the issues he raised before -- including equity and operation of airports if the government wanted to implement a private finance initiative (PFI) for funding airport projects -- have been resolved.

"Now that they have made this announcement, we welcome it and it is for the Federal ministry and also MAHB to resolve whatever funding and concession regulation that they may be looking at.

“For Penang, we are (more) concerned about early commencement and completion of the airport. Other issues, I think, it is best to leave it to the relevant agencies to resolve," he told reporters after opening the Art For Peace forum today.

In a statement yesterday, MAHB said that it is in the midst of discussions with various parties on the options for investment and funding models.

The airport operator said it submitted an application to fully fund the project under the proposed MAVCOM Regulated Asset Base (RAB) framework and is awaiting approval.

Once the plans have been approved by Penang Island City Council (MBPP), it added, construction will begin in the first quarter of next year.

Chow hoped that the Federal Government and MAHB will engage with the state government on the expansion.

"It will be good because at the local council, will can expedite and all that. I am sure they have been engaging us like MAHB has been, too. They presented to the Exco and all that," he said.

In his speech at the forum, Chow said the the event played a crucial role in promoting peace and harmony in Penang by helping people from different backgrounds understand one another better.

"Sometimes, meetings and discussions don’t seem to help solve problems … thus it is a force which has the power to unite mankind," he said, while adding that art plays a role in the development of human society and the cultural system.

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