KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 (Bernama) -- The restructuring of PLUS Malaysia Bhd's (PLUS) highway toll rates starting Feb 1 will be the first time in the history of the highway concessionaire in which toll rates have been reduced without the government having to make compensation, in the process saving RM26 billion for the benefit of the people and for economic development.
This is considered a ‘triple win’ where highway users will enjoy an 18 percent discount on toll charges until the concession ends in 2058, Tony Pua, political secretary to the Finance Minister, said.
He said the Pakatan Harapan government has now honoured what the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government failed to do.
Reminding former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of PLUS’ policies under BN rule which saw constant toll hikes, Pua said the BN government had to pay more than RM3 billion in compensation for the concessionaire to freeze toll charges.
"It appears that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is in a daze and has run out of ideas how to defend the BN government’s highway policies that had done injustice to the people,” he said.
PUA-TOLL 2 KUALA LUMPUR
Pua said under PH rule, toll charges will not be increased until the concession ends, and cited an example in which a trip from Jalan Duta here to Alor Setar, once the 18 percent reduction is implemented, would remain at RM45.50 in 2038, which is almost half of the RM82 charge users would have had to pay under Najib’s formula in the same year.
During BN’s rule, he said toll charges, according to the concession agreement, were increased at least five percent every three years, while citing the year 1999 when the PLUS concession period was extended by 12 years from 2018 to 2030 with a 26 percent toll hike for every three to five years until 2016.
In 2005, meanwhile, Pua said the PLUS highway concession period was extended for another eight years from 2030 to 2038, with toll rates to be increased 10 percent every three years while in 2011, PLUS toll rates were restructured for toll charges to be raised by five percent every three years.
Besides this, all other PLUS highways including the North-South Expressway Central Link (ELITE Highway), Penang Bridge, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE), Malaysia-Singapore Second Link (LINKEDUA), Seremban-Port Dickson Highway (SPDH) - also had their concessions extended to 2038 and subjected to periodic hikes respectively.
On Jan 16, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government will not sell PLUS and has decided to reduce the toll rates by 18 percent with the aim of easing the people’s cost of living.
PUA-TOLL 3 (LAST) KUALA LUMPUR
Pua said with this decision by the PH government, the people, including those in Sabah and Sarawak will get to enjoy RM26 billion in government initiatives from the concessionaire compensation savings, while at the same time, the rights and interests of PLUS’ shareholders - Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) - were not affected.
“Under the BN government, although the concessions were extended several times, there was not even a single time in which toll rates were reduced. On the other hand, they were raised every three years according to their respective agreements,” he added.
Pua said the 18 percent toll reduction would not devalue PLUS’ assets, while the EPF dividend payments will also not be affected.
Lambasting Najib’s recent actions in trying to spin the highway toll issue, Pua said the abolishment of toll charges at three PLUS toll plazas beginning 2018 and harped constantly by the former prime minister as among his “achievements” came with a price as the government had to pay RM856 million in compensation to PLUS.
“Fortunately, with the plan announced by the Prime Minister recently, this ‘debt’ owed to PLUS has been written off and no longer has to be paid.
“This has allowed the Federal Government to allocate the amount saved for other spendings that will benefit all Malaysians,” he added.
TAG: tony pua, plus, concessionaire, najib, ph, bn