Aliran urges govt not to sell NSE to private sector

15 Jan 2020 / 10:19 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The government needs to oppose any sale of the North-South Expressway (NSE) to the private sector because companies tend to focus more on profits rather than social obligations, says Aliran.

If the prospective buyer is from the private sector, it may agree to lower the toll collection for now but eventually it is likely to hike it as the private sector is driven by profit margins, the Penang-based civil society said in a statement.

Presently, government-linked Khazanah holds 51% of PLUS Malaysia while, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) the remainder 49%.

Aliran said companies would extensively lobby for it as it is a good business deal.

But if a private concessionaire runs the strategic highway, it would eventually increase the toll rates, Aliran said.

It urged the Cabinet to ensure that PLUS remains in the hands of the taxpayers through public institutions such as Khazanah and EPF.

According to Aliran, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition government didn’t think through extensively about reducing the toll when it made such a promise.

Aliran asked the government to look at new options by imposing congestion surcharges to entice more road users to rely on public transportation rather than drive their own vehicles.

The profits derived from PLUS can be channelled towards improving the public transport system throughout the country, it said.

When there are fewer vehicles in use, the government could do away with the fuel subsidy; reduce road taxes and insurance costs as well as parking needs.

With a steady return from its investments in PLUS, EPF could to work ont generating good profits for its contributors, who formed the bulk of the country’s workforce, while the escalating costs for highway maintenance could also be reduced, Aliran said.

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