KOTA KINABALU (Nov 29): The State Government will stop at nothing to recover Sabah Development Bank (SDBank)’s RM2.2 billion debt owed by government-linked companies (GLCs), said State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
Masidi said the State Government had carried out comprehensive restructuring of the bank through the appointment of a new management and board of directors, and implementing the full ownership of SDBank under the Chief Minister (Incorporation) Ordinance.
He said it now has a new team that is capable of taking stricter action against the debtors, which includes the appointment of an official who has a reputation akin to an “Ah Long” or illegal money lender to ensure as much of the owed money can be recovered.
Masidi said there will be no whitewashing of debtors from private companies, especially from West Malaysia, and he assured no stone will be left unturned in ensuring the parties concerned are made liable for their actions.
“We are not afraid to collect debts. If we have to act like ‘Ah Longs’, then so be it. We must get the money,” he told Senallang assemblyman Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal during the question and answer session at the State Assembly sitting on Wednesday.
Masidi said a big hurdle they are currently facing is a nominated loan agreement signed by the State Government and SDBank in 2010 which states that all credit and loan risks in borrowing from SDBank will be borne by the State Government, and the fact that GLCs are owned by the government complicates the situation.
To a question on whether his ministry is ready to list all non-performing GLCs and to hold accountable those found to be implicated in corruption, Masidi said it first needs to ensure whether the GLCs are actually non-operational and if it involves misuse of power, it will go after them in cooperation with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“We have sacked a few, but we just did not want to inform the public as I think it is embarrassing. Our overriding consideration is to solve this problem and make sure the GLCs are closed down or not. It is not my intention to shame those involved. If it involves misuse of power, normally we refer to the MACC. I know this is a difficult job, but we need to get it done,” he said in response to Moyog assemblyman Datuk Darell Leiking’s additional question.
Masidi earlier said that SDBank is still owed RM2.2 billion by GLCs as of the third quarter of this year, and RM1.2 billion of that figure is Sabah International Petroleum (SIP)’s remaining debt to the bank with RM700 million having been paid in the first phase after the takeover of SIP by SMJ Energy Sdn Bhd.
He clarified the unpaid debts by GLCs to SDBank is the remaining loan by the State Government’s subsidiary companies that do not have the ability to repay the loan and are bankrupt or unable to operate, causing the State Government to bear the loss according to the 2010 agreement.