PR1MA trims 100 staff while carrying RM5b debt

The state-owned property developer is undergoing due diligence by KPKT

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN, FARA AISYAH & SHAZNI ONG / pic by TMR FILE

PERBADANAN PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) had witnessed about 100 staff leaving the ailing firm, either through a voluntary separation scheme (VSS), resignation or non-renewal of contracts of top management personnel.

The state-owned property developer, which has largely failed to deliver thousands of homes since it was launched in July 2011, is undergoing due diligence by the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT).

A Special Parliamentary Select Committee report, which recently revealed the country’s over RM1 trillion debt, also listed PR1MA shouldering a RM5 billion debt which will mature between 2020 and 2024. It is not known how PR1MA will repay or redeem the debt.

The 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme or PR1MA was previously under the Prime Minister’s Office before the change of government in May 2018 which led to the change and put it under the supervision of the KPKT.

Two sources confirmed that PR1MA had undertaken a VSS programme in April and the staff had left the firm.

The agency — which was created initially by the government to create affordable homes but was later shifted to lifestyle concepts for middle-income households in key urban centres — has about 300 staff, according to a source.

The source said PR1MA had spent approximately RM4 million on the VSS exercise which was undertaken earlier in April.

The company has been mired by poor management, financial losses, uncompleted properties, questionable projects at unstrategic locations, a lot of unsold units and rising debts.

The government had injected the initial fund to kick-start PR1MA as a means to help Malaysians purchase affordable homes.

The source also revealed that PR1MA may choose to shift its headquarters from Ara Damansara to Cyberjaya to cut operational expenses, a source privy to ongoing internal discussions told The Malaysian Reserve.

It is not known whether the probes in PR1MA’s past dealings will be revealed to the public or will institute formal investigation by the authorities.

According to its latest annual report, PR1MA posted three annual losses in five years between 2013 and 2017. Its net loss for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017, spiked to RM34.22 million from a net loss of RM4.32 million the year before.

Tan Sri Eddy Chen was appointed as the new chairman of PR1MA in October last year.

Three of the company’s top officers — CEO Datuk Abdul Mutalib Alias, COO Datuk Aminuddin Abdul Manaf and CMO Mohamed Roslan Ismail — had left the company after their contracts ended this year.

Mohd Nazri Md Shariff, who was previously the company’s CFO, is currently the acting CEO since early January this year.

It is estimated that more than RM8 billion has been injected into the company.

KPKT Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had previously said PR1MA was cleaning up its mess which included debts and outstanding stocks. Zuraida did not discount the possibility of PR1MA being abolished. A due diligence report to chart the future direction for PR1MA is expected to be completed by this month.

PR1MA is among the four agencies chosen to form a single entity to oversee the affordable housing market in Malaysia. The other three companies are Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd, Housing Project for the Hardcore Poor and the Malaysia Housing Project for Civil Servants.