BUTTERWORTH - The state government is only willing to absorb the non-management staff of the Penang Port Commission's (PPC) ferry operations should it take over the service.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said an additional 30 licences for new ferries would be required.
He added that while the state needed the expertise of the non-management workers, the top management staff would be a concern.
"How much are they being paid? Are they being paid value for money?
"If we don't accept them, we have to pay them high retrenchment benefits," he told reporters after launching a health fair by the Kampung Simpah Village Development and Security Committee in Jalan Raja Uda here yesterday.
Lim was commenting on a report in The Star that PPC was willing to bear the previous losses incurred by the ferry operations if the service was ceded to the state.
PPC chairman Tan Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek had said the state government would also have to absorb all 236 of the employees.
"As long as the state government absorbs the workers and ferry crew members on their current employment terms, we will agree to hand over the ferry service," he had said.
However, Lim said there was no way the state would pay for PPC's debts because of "previous mismanagement".
"I'm not going to pay for your past failures. We want a clean slate," he said.
Lim urged PPC to send him a written proposal on the handing-over of the ferry operations as it was a serious matter.
"Assets and inventory need to be evaluated. We have shown that we can turn things around.
"The Seberang Prai Municipal Council is a good example. Before we took over, it was practically bankrupt with RM234 million (S$87 million) in losses," he added.