Finance minister Lim Guan Eng has defended the 18% toll reduction on highways operated by PLUS Malaysia, saying that the move would save the government billions of ringgit in the long run, according to a report by The Star.
“The value of the discounting factor is more than the previous concession period. We reduced the toll and we do not need to pay compensation, which means the government will save RM28 billion,” said Lim.
“The 18% (reduction) saves the people and the government RM42 billion to RM43 billion. That is a huge amount,” he continued, and claimed that those who criticised the move were “merely making statements without counting.”
Prior to the announcement of the toll reductions, PLUS’ concession period was set to come to an end in 2038, with many parties expressing their interest in acquiring the company. However, the government decided against selling PLUS due to unattractive bids, and instead extended the concession period by a further 20 years to 2058, with the condition of a 18% reduction in toll rates being implemented from February 1, 2020.
In an earlier report by Bernama, Lim said the toll reductions were part of a step-by-step plan implemented by the government with the goal of abolishing tolls in the future. He didn’t provide an exact timeline on the matter but noted that abolishing tolls would take time and is dependent on the state of the national economy.
“If we look at what we mentioned, that this is a gradual step towards the end goal. That’s what was stated in the promises of the PH (Pakatan Harapan) manifesto. But this will definitely take time as we have to wait for the economy to recover,” he said.
However, not everyone is convinced of Lim’s abolishment plan, with MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong describing the step-by-step move as “mind boggling.” In The Star’s report, he said, “Lim has claimed that this is a gradual step towards the end goal and that was stated in the promises of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.”
“This is the beginning of 2020 and the PLUS-owned toll concessions, which had 18 more years to expire, have now been more than doubled to another 38 years (before expiring). It’s a long, long wait and it being described as a step-by-step abolition is hard to swallow,” he continued.
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