Highway tolls will not last forever – works ministry – paultan.org
The claims that highway users will be paying toll indefinitely with the restructuring of four highway concessionaires are not true, the works ministry said in a statement. Highway concessionaires cannot arbitrarily add on new debts as enshrined in the new agreement involving the recent restructuring, it said.
“The government will always ensure that consumers are not burdened. If this restructuring is not allowed in order that the government can save on compensation, then the toll rate increase has to be given, which will then cause a chain reaction where the cost of goods will increase as well,” the ministry’s statement read.
Prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on April 4 that toll rates on highways operated by the four concessionaires will not be raised until the end of their concession period. The concessionaires manage the Kesas Highway (Shah Alam Expressway), Smart Tunnel, Sprint Highway and the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP).
A clarification was also made by the ministry on the alleged fixed cost for the construction and maintenance of the highways as well as the extension of the concession period, which has always caused worry for consumers.
“This is a false and misleading statement. The government has never paid or provided allocations in the form of fixed costs for the construction or maintenance of the highways. Construction was done using fund obtained by the concession company through loans or the issuance of sukuk which must be repaid through toll collection, while the operation cost and maintenance is covered through toll collection,” the ministry’s statement read.
The ministry also explained that the restructuring meant that the toll rate would remain the same for a further period, and the government could also terminate the concession period at any time subject to its financial position in order to avoid increases in the price of goods due any increase in the toll rate.
Regarding allegations made against the Amanat Lebuhraya Rakyat Berhad (ALR), claiming that it took over highway assets worth more than RM5 billion with capital of RM5,000, the works ministry also clarified the role of the ALR.
“The role of the ALR is solely as the custodian of the four highways. Prospective sukuk investors (or sukuk subscribers) need confidence to invest for returns and as such, the ALR consists of corporate figures who are not affiliated with any political party,” it said.
“This allows ALR with a capital of only RM5,000 to act as “guardian” of the four highways. In addition, since the original shareholders are no more and since ALR is non-profit, then no more dividend payment is required to be made, and which thus allows the toll rate to be maintained at the existing rate,” the ministry said.
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