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Selangor to monetise land asset but ground rules have shifted

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Petaling Jaya (Feb 7): With the intention of monetising its land asset, Selangor’s Pakatan Rakyat-led government is targetting to develop some 5,000 acres within the next three to five years, when it hopes to make property development the main contributor to state revenue.

And to gear up for this, the Menteri Besar Inc (MBI) has been mandated to spearhead the restructuring and consolidation of numerous state-owned property development companies and their land asset.

This is to enable state-owned corporations, some of which are in disarray, to come up to speed and take an active role in property development in the state.

Unlike in the past, new Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali does not want to just sell land to developers, which then earned fat profits developing them.

As he puts  it in an interview with the The Edge Malaysia weekly’s Jose Barrock, Fatin Rasyiqah Mustaza and Afiq Isa: “Certainly, the joint ventures will not be like before, with the state-owned company owning just a 30% stake in the projects and not getting involved in them at all.

“I won’t allow that. I want an active role for the state-owned corporation in any joint venture. At least, there will be a transfer of technology or knowledge. They will have to work together to form this synergy for the state to benefit,” Azmin tells the weekly in its latest Feb 9-15 edition out Saturday.

“Selangor has so many assets but they are fragmented and some of the state-government linked companies are in disarray.

“I have given clear instructions to the MBI to study this and try to consolidate the companies so that they we can have a better and more efiicient delivery system,” he said.

In the wide-ranging interview from business to politics, Azmin also spoke about the state’s intentional adoption of a deficit budget for 2015. Selangor’s total budget of RM2.42 billion is also the biggest ever.

“It is a deficit budget by choice. The intention is to create economic activities, which will then ease the financial impact caused by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), for example,” he said.

The budget also marked a shift in emphasis with RM1.13 billion allocated for development, nearly double that of his predecesor Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim. However, details are still scarce on planned infrastructure developments or the state’s plan to increase revenue collection.

Azmin also did not shed much light on the state’s continuing water conundrum, other than to say: “I have instructed Air Selangor to start negotiations. I want them to move fast and conclude the negotiations before September.”

However, the weekly understands that constitutional lawyers were vetting documents last week to ascertain ownership of assets - largely dams, pipes and indrstructures - with state and federal governments making rival claims over them.

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On the political front, Azmin who took over as MB after a drawn-out crisis which saw public appreciation of PR plummeting and the coalition seemingly disintegrating, appears to have ride out the bumps.

As he says: “I’m happy to note that soon aftter I came in, we (PAS, PKR and DAP) managed to consolidate and move as one team.

Dashing his political opponents’ expectations the Selangor political crisis would worsen, Azmin said, “But it turned out otherwise … within a very short period of time, I managed to consolidate the party.

Azmin was also asked if it was true he was close to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and for his take on the likely impact of the upcoming court verdict on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s case.

The full story is in The Edge Malaysia, available at newstands or via subscription at theedgemarkets.com.

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