Malaysia revives massive Chinese rail project

Work on the East Coast Rail Link was suspended when Malaysia's new government took power in May last year and is now being resumed

Work on the East Coast Rail Link was suspended when Malaysia's new government took power in May last year and is now being resumed

It welcomed the signing of a supplementary agreement between Malaysia Rail Link Sendirian Berhad and state-owned China Communications Construction Company Ltd to revive the project.

The prime minister's office said in a statement that the construction cost of the first two phases of the project will be cut to 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion), down from the original cost of 65.5 billion ringgit ($15.9 billion).

He was defeated at the polls by 93-year-old veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad, who was earlier premier for 22 years.

The project is seen as a key part of Beijing's Belt and Road global infrastructure drive.

The 688km rail project is to connect the east and west coasts of peninsular Malaysia across the Titiwangsa mountain range. But the project's cost ballooned as construction went underway, with the finance ministry estimating that the price tag could reach as much as 81 billion ringgit.

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Malaysia and China agreed on Friday to resume construction of a multi-billion dollar rail project, shaving almost a third of the cost, after months of negotiations that strained ties between the two trade partners.

"The SA, which covered the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning aspects of the ECRL, was achieved after months of negotiations between the companies involved, as well as the governments of Malaysia and China".

"This reduction will surely benefit Malaysia, and lighten the burden on the country's financial position", it added.

Malaysia said Friday a major Chinese-backed railway had been revived following a deal to cut costs, lifting a suspension slapped on the project when a corruption-plagued regime lost power a year ago. The government was nearly done with its budget review and was ready to look toward state investments to boost economic growth, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in February.

Malaysia discussed possible fundraising through a yuan-denominated bond sale with China's support, Mr Lim said at the time.

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