KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 24): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s ‘new’ plan to abolish tolls is another repeated election promise that will be broken again, said an Opposition lawmaker.
MP for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua in a statement today said that during a forum on Budget 2018 earlier this week, Najib said that tolls should be abolished, adding that wherever possible he would look into unraveling the legacy problems caused by toll concession agreements.
“Malaysians shouldn’t fall the empty promises of the Prime Minister whose track record has proven that he has zero commitment in abolishing these tolls.
“It isn’t the first time Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised to abolish tolls or lower toll rates. In Barisan Nasional’s (BN) manifesto for the 13th General Election, Najib promised the gradual reduction of intracity tolls within 5 years. Yet, 5 years on, not only has this promise failed to be delivered, he delivered the exact opposite,” he said.
Pua added that on October 2015, 18 tolls operated by 11 concessionaires were allowed to increase their fares with some even going up RM2.30 overnight.
He said These included toll routes such as the LDP, SMART Tunnel, MEX, AKLEH and NPE in the Klang Valley as well as the Senai-Desaru Highway in Johor and the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) in Penang.
Pua pointed out that in response to this, Najib had said the government had no choice but to allow the toll fares to increase because preventing it would require massive compensation payments.
He said The Prime Minister went on to threaten Malaysians that taxes would have to be increased if the government were to abolish tolls.
“The Prime Minister’s threats have proven true because when the government did remove certain tolls, they paid exorbitant compensation equivalent to the amount of toll these concessionaires would have collected anyway!
“The above means, Najib “abolish tolls” or not, the BN government would always profit the concessionaires. Malaysians would either have to pay for the tolls directly, or pay for them via taxes paid to the Government,” said Pua.
He said barring exceptions, the (concession) agreements do not at any point in time require the Government to compensate these concessionaires for future profits.
“Why is the BN Government so adamant in ensuring these toll concessionaires are paid their future profits at the expense of Malaysian tax-payers?” he said.