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Deferment Does Not Mean Cancellation, Says PAC Chairman - malaysiakini

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 -- The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is going ahead with the meeting to scrutinise the proposed purchase of Eurocopter helicopters as the deal in still on the table.

PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the deferment of the purchase of 12 Eurocopter EC725 Cougar helicopters to replace the ageing Nuri aircraft did not mean that the government was cancelling the deal.

"It's a deferment... it's not a question of cancelling the deal. Deferment is not cancellation," said Azmi when asked on the rationale of the PAC meeting when the government had already announced that the deal had been put on hold.

Earlier the PAC received a briefing on the acquisition of the EC725 helicopters following outcry among certain quarters that the price was exorbitant.

Azmi said the briefing was organised by the Defence Ministry and attended by the ministry's Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah and Royal Malaysian Air Force Chief Gen Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin.

"We do our part, which is within the framework of our duty as the PAC committee. We have everybody here together with opposition members.

"Today (the meeting) is on the technical side (of the deal); tomorrow, it's on the financial aspect. We will only get the overall picture after the briefings," he said.

Azmi said the tender process for the helicopter was still at an early stage.

"A letter of intent is just an intent. It's not even an order; it's only an intention to buy," he said, referring to the letter of intent which the Finance Ministry had issued to Eurocopter.

He said that the deal had not reached the price negotiation stage yet.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on Tuesday that the government had put on hold the purchase of the helicopters at a cost of RM1.679 billion until the global economic situation stabilised.

Abdullah said that the government had to focus its attention on more important projects which would directly benefit the people.

The PAC meeting continues tomorrow.


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