21September2020

Agenda Daily

Govt privatised Plus highways to rationalise toll collection

The government privatised Plus Highways Berhad (Plus) in 2011 in order to rationalise toll collection and prevent unnecessary hikes in toll charges, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

The government now owns 51% of Plus and the balance by EPF.

“Due to this timely move to privatise Plus, it has to be noted that tolls for the North-South Expressway (NSE) have not been increased for the last 11 years.

“Not a single share is now owned by what YAB Lim considers as private ‘cronies’,” he said, in response to a statement by DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng.

Lim had said the government allowed toll to be collected on the NSE in order to look after its cronies at the expense of 30 million Malaysians.

Fadillah pointed out that highway concessions were signed during the reign of “a previous prime minister” who is now with the opposition.

“I am incredulous that YAB Lim considers the 14.55 million Employee Provident Fund (EPF) members as ‘cronies’,” said Fadillah, reported The Star.

He said that EPF’s ownership of Plus allowed its members to receive a stable return every year from a mature cash-generating asset.

Fadillah added with the introduction of discounts and rebates in recent years, actual toll rates for NSE had gone down.

He said Plus had also spent billions of ringgit on widening roads to alleviate congestion.

He pointed out that Lim had last year asked for Plus tolls to be abolished and maintenance and upgrade of roads be covered through collection of road taxes.

To this, Fadillah said that total collection of road taxes amounted to RM2.4 billion per year.

He said assuming that 14.55 million EPF account holders agree to this suggestion, the RM2.4 billion collection would not be enough to maintain highways under Plus, let alone the 50,000km of toll-free Federal roads.

He said under the government’s Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris), billions are allocated to the state governments to maintain state roads.

This included RM500 million to Selangor this year while Penang received RM94.4 million in 2014, RM101.5 million in 2015 and RM107.6 million.

“It is hoped that YAB Lim spends more time to understand the true situation instead of issuing populist statements that are not grounded on reality and irresponsibly labeling any and all parties as cronies,” he said.-3/11/2016

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