Report: Cabinet set to discuss options to cut toll next week

23-Aug-2019 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Cabinet is set to discuss three choices to bring down the toll rates for Malaysia’s 29 highways in its meeting next Wednesday, according to a Singapore daily.

The Straits Times (ST) cited anonymous government officials saying discussions were slow due to internal disagreements over the options, adding that one senior official pointed out the argument “is no longer about which idea is the best or cheapest but about who gets to be in charge”.

ST cited documents that it sighted on three proposals with differing suggestions for how the toll reduction move would be financed and also varying final amounts on the cost.

The first proposal previously announced by Finance minister Lim Guan Eng involves the use of RM6.2 billion to take over Gamuda’s four highways that would do away with the need to pay RM5.3 billion to compensate the company for not raising toll fares, among other things.

ST cited sources that said Lim’s proposal was met with negative reaction within Cabinet, noting that the Works Ministry was working on another proposal to reduce toll fares.

The Singapore paper cited an unnamed official as saying that some ministers had questioned why Lim was “reluctant” to spend on other programmes but was ready to pay RM6.2 billion to highway concessionaire Gamuda, with the official highlighting that RM6.2 billion was the same amount for the bailout of Felda that took a long time to finalise.

According to ST, the second proposal to be discussed by Cabinet is by the Works Ministry that is claimed to be able to result in more than RM100 billion in savings over the coming 35 years, where the government would lease the highways until the end of the highway concessionaires’ agreements, which would allow Putrajaya to fix the toll rates.

For the third option, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional proposed to issue perpetual bonds to borrow money to buy over the highways with no fixed deadline to make repayments, which would enable the biggest cuts to toll rates at 45 per cent.

ST, however, noted weaknesses in both the second and third proposals, adding there is still the challenge of convincing highway concessionaires to accept the ideas.


Category: Malaysia

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