Private sector to finance Kulim airport

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The proposed RM1.6 billion Kulim International Airport will be fully funded by investment by the private sector as the government seeks to woo more private enterprises to participate in infrastructure projects and reduces its financial burden.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the entire cost to build the airport will be funded through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

“This will not be funded through government grant, instead it is through PFI and we have seen interest from the private sector to invest in this development,” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Lim said the willingness of the private sector to invest in the project also reflects the confidence towards Kedah and the federal government.

He said the selection of developer of the airport will be done through an open tender.

The proposed Kulim International Airport will be the third international airport in northern Peninsular Malaysia after Langkawi International Airport and Penang International Airport (PIA) in Bayan Lepas. The finance minister also said the PIA expansion programme will also be funded through PFI.

“PIA’s expansion will also cost around RM1.3 billion and that is a lot the government will have to bare. Hence, we are glad that it will be done through PFI. Because if the government grants the fund to PIA, then it will not be fair if the same is not done with Kulim’s upcoming International Airport.”

PIA’s expansion is projected to improve its capacity from 6.5 million currently to 12 million passengers annually.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali reiterated that under the current economy, the government needs active involvement from the private sector.

“An international airport in the Northern Corridor would attract investment for the industrial sector and the new Kulim airport will complement its Penang counterpart.”