Confirmed – Eurocopter deal off for now

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 – The Eurocopter deal has been deferred until the economy improves, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi said today, confirming a Malaysian Insider report.

At a press conference at the Ministry of Defence, he said that this was to reallocate funds to projects which could benefit the people directly in the current financial crisis.

“At the moment we have decided not to purchase the helicopters so as to allocate funds for other projects. The savings are important due to the economy and financial crisis.

“Due to the financial crisis, we need money. We cannot just be borrowing every time we need money. The best thing to do now is reallocate our budget,” Abdullah said.

He also revealed that the decision was made in an Economic Council exco meeting on Oct 13, which recommended that certain projects be shelved in favour of those that had a high “trickle-down multiplier effect” on the economy.

Clarifying that the deal is worth RM1.67 billion and not RM2.3 billion as reported, he said the Public Accounts Committee would continue its scrutiny of the deal.

Abdullah, however, said he believed there were no irregularities in the procurement procedure and that the scrutiny would be good.

“It will let us know what the procedures are and explain why the price is so high and comments with regards to the tender,” he said, adding that the price was high due to the specifications involved.

By stating that the helicopters were capable of combat, search and rescue as well as troop lifting, Abdullah explained that the 12 Cougar EC725s cost more than those being acquired by Brazil because “they have been upgraded to that level. If it is only for transport, it will cost much less.”

It had been revealed that Brazil were purchasing 50 Cougars at RM84 million each whereas Malaysia would be buying its units for RM139 million each.

Eventually, the Royal Malaysian Air Force would need to purchase new helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of 28 Nuris, Abdullah added.

“It does not mean we don’t want to buy. The Nuri is old and has been involved in many fatal accidents.

“We have to buy new helicopters no later than 2011. If we can, we want to buy earlier,” he said, explaining also that “it is not like buying a car” and would take a three-year period for the aircrafts to be delivered.

He, however, did not rule out a new tender process in the future.

“This is a matter for our officials to decide. Whether we want to do it is our decision,” he said.

Abdullah added that various ministries have been instructed to reduce expenditure and this may cause some other projects to be shelved.

Sourced from TMI.

[bold emphasis is mine]

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Sooo.. the heli deal is off, postponed, deferred, shelved or whatever. That’s according to AAB, the outgoing.. hmmm.. ‘not about to leave yet till March 09 or December 08, whichever doesn’t work out for him’ prime minister of Malaysia.

This statement was in response to an earlier ‘decision’ announced by NTR, the incoming.. hmmm.. ‘Gawd! I’m this close to being annointed PM by the village idiot and people are bugging me about petty little things’ prime-minister-still-in-waiting for the nation.

Btw did you folks notice that the Eurocopter price tag has changed from RM 2.3 billion, down to RM 1.1 billion as announced by Mindef, and now its up again, at RM 1.67 billion. Gotta be some contract variations according to ‘upgraded’ specifications i.e. the clowns can’t decide whether the EC725s were meant for military troop transport, search and rescue or combat-support applications, or perhaps, semua bolih pakai.

Let’s not kid ourselves, least of all, by allowing these inept government servants to pull wool over our eyes. Mindef’s disclosure were baseline bids i.e. 12 units of helicopters from the various suppliers without the bells and whistles, and definitely without other considerations.. wink2. Brazil’s ability to procure the EC725 at RM 84 million each would reflect this reality.

Thus far, not a single response from the BN government was proffered to dispute Mentari’s expose that RM 2.3 billion was inaccurate. Hence, the ‘new’ price tag of RM 1.67 billion mentioned by AAB because the PAC will probably be ‘guided’ by this figure when they scrutinise the paper trail. Yer get the picture now, folks.

And will somebody please tell that old foggy, LKS, he has no business ‘wanking himself silly‘ in trying to get the PAC chairman to recuse himself from the inquiry.

Meanwhile, AAB’s high ‘trickle-down multiplier effect’ economic remedy runs counter to what his administration is doing i.e. injecting RM 5 billion into ValueCap when the same would have had an immediate effect if it is used to subsidise petrol at the retail level or prop up any existing agriculture project with a long term view of reducing the nation’s imported food bill.

Bailing out cronies is better than easing the burden of the rakyat, I guess.

With borrowed money which belong to us, the people.

Update: 1930HR 29/10/08.

PAC’s 1st day preliminary findings after meeting Mindef officials – Procedure seems above board.. no hanky panky evident.. semua ship-shape and tender was apparently transparent. Full TMI report here.

The financial aspect will be dealt with tomorrow by the PAC committee. And trust me, they will find nothing wrong here as well because the BN government will fall back to the allocation made in December ’06 of US$600 miilion (about RM 2.1 billion at today’s exchangerate) as justification. NST’s chronology of events here. And AAB might even jest that they would have saved RM 400 million if the deal was inked.

Do yer get the feeling someone’s covered their tracks and the paper trail too?

So what’s missing and where’s the over-pricing?

For that, the PAC needs to speak with independent experts including the other bidders and particularly the chairman of Mentari Services. Anything less will be ‘rotoring the dirt’ away from the culprits.