Toll Restructuring Not PH Policy, Started In 2002 - Works Minister所有资讯
In a recent statement, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof has sought to clarify/confirm/assert that the initiative for toll restructuring actually began 20 years ago in 2002 during the Barisan Nasional (BN) era, or 16 years prior to the formation of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
This stands in apparent contradiction to another recent statement made by PH leaders who themselves claim that the move against raising toll fares for four road tolls was based upon a 2019 policy to fulfil an election promise to bring living costs down with the ultimate intent of abolishing tolls altogether, one that was widely credited as a contributing factor to their win in 2018 general election.
Who Takes Credit?
For added context, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob said early this week that four toll concessions in the Klang Valley will be taken over by directly the government via the establishment of a new private entity, Amanat Lebuhraya Rakyat (ALR) as part of yet another restructuring exercise.
These four toll roads involved are comprised of the Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), SMART Tunnel, SPRINT highway, and the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP). The irony is that this move is similar to that pursued by the PH administration years ago, which also drew its fair share of criticisms.
Fadillah said that the 2002 restructuring plan involved the Works Ministry along with other relevant government agencies to negotiate with highway concessionaires:
“The strategy of this structuring negotiation was to take into account the following matters: reduce inter-city highway toll rates in stages, the rising cost of living, the concession companies’ commitment (loan), the impact on government liabilities (compensation) and the highway toll rates,” he said.
“For example, the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) toll rate was restructured to its current rate in 2007. Apart from that, some toll plazas have been abolished, among them were Slim River, Perak in 1993; Senai, Johor Baru in 2004; Salak Jaya Toll Plaza and Sungai Besi Highway (Besraya) in 2009; the one-way Kg Medan Toll Plaza and Lebuhraya Baru Pantai in 2011; the one-way Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang Toll Plaza in 2012; and the Federal Highway, Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, and the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) in Johor in 2018,” he added.
A Better Deal?
Fadillah also mentioned the estimated acquisition costs of the concession companies needed to implement this restructuring is RM5.48 billion, which he points out as being RM720 million lower than the offer submitted by the Ministry of Finance in 2019 (RM6.2 billion), adding that it was more appropriate that the government ensured no increase in toll rates which did not incur cash compensation.
“This guarantee would have exposed the government to financial risks where the monies collected from the people would also be used to bear the risk. Apart from that, evidence that a 30 percent discount would be given is also enforceable by any government, subject to payment of compensation. I would like to emphasise here that as a responsible government, the government should not use the allocation that should be used to provide facilities to the people as compensation.