So from RM50 million that the MPPP will have to pay for the proposed convention centre, it has now become just RM11.5 million, which we are told is a “minute sum” for RM300 million worth of facilities.
If this sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And very ‘creative’ too. We are now told the council will save RM25 million in upgrading Pisa and the Aquatics Centre and it will also receive RM13.5 million from the sale of the hotel land. Thus the MPPP would only have to stump up RM11.5 million instead of RM50 million.
In the first place, has the MPPP budgeted or planned RM25 million on upgrading work? If it hasn’t, then there is nothing to save. Secondly, whether or not we have sPICE, the MPPP can still sell the land.
I have some questions:
- From what I hear, there is a list of things that S P Setia expects from the Penang state government/the MPPP in relation to its proposal. What are these? They should be made known to us. What does S P Setia expect in return for undertaking this RM300 million project and operating it?
- Where is the financial projection for the next 10 years? What is the breakeven period and ROI for the project?
- Who will absorb any persistent operational losses?
- How many trees will be planted on the roof-top garden and the ‘people’s park’?
- How much is the maintenance cost of the garden and the complex?
- Will access to the roof-top garden be free? Will rates for the aquatic and sports centre be maintained?
- Are there adequate car parks? If sPICE is going to have a 600-table (or whatever) banquet hall plus a hotel, how many car park lots do you need bearing in mind our limited public transport system?
- Was this on the agenda of the last full council meeting of the MPPP? From what I hear, it wasn’t. Has the full council seen the financial projections and approved all this?
Someone who was involved in the public relations industry told me that when the KLCC concept was being promoted, it was initially touted as the ‘Hyde Park of KL’ – a place where people work, live, play etc . Thousands of trees were supposed to be planted. But if you look at the KLCC green space now, it’s hardly a Hyde Park, is it?
Another person who saw the sPICE slideshow says it brought back ‘fond’ memories of the PGCC project. That too was supposed to be a place where people work, live, play, etc. Zero-carbon and all that jargon.
The Penang state government should take care not to expose the MPPP to future losses or heavy expenditure from any proposed development.
Here’s an alternative idea that will not expose the MPPP to any losses. In fact, it will make the MPPP a tidy immediate profit. Why not sell the whole land outright to S P Setia at market value? The MPPP will make a lucrative profit, which it can use for its operations. S P Setia can then go ahead with its ‘iconic’ RM300 million sPICE design (of course after it succeeds in getting through independent environmental/traffic/social impact studies). As we are told it is a viable project, S P Setia can keep all the profit it makes from operating the place. The people will get their ‘roof-top garden’. Win-win-win, right? This way, everything will be at arm’s length.
So why do we need a ‘public-private partnership’ and 30-year BOT, in which the MPPP will have to stump out cash (whether RM50 million or RM11.5 million)?