KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet will discuss on the best ways to reduce toll rates for 29 highways during its meeting next Wednesday, according to a Singapore daily.
Citing anonymous government officials, The Straits Times (ST) attributed the slow progress of discussions to internal disagreements over the options.
On documents cited by ST, three proposals were cited with different suggestions on how best to reduce toll rates with financing options and total amounts of costs incurred.
Among the proposals is the plan by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to acquire Gamuda’s four highways at a total cost of RM6.2 billion which will be fully financed by a bond issuance and paid for from collection of congestion charges.
The benefits include saving the government at least RM5.3 billion in compensation payments to the four concessionaires for not raising toll rates over a period between nine to 23 years.
This move will see motorists paying less for tolls. The four tolled highway concessionaires are the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint), Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) and Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART).
ST cited sources that said Lim’s proposal was met with negative reaction within the Cabinet, disclosing that the Works Ministry was considering other proposals to relieve the burden of highway tolls on road users.
According to ST, the second proposal to be discussed will be presented by the Works Ministry that is said to be able to save more than RM100 billion over the coming 35 years. The government would lease the highways until the end of the highway concessionaires’ agreements, which will enable Putrajaya to fix the toll rates.
The third option sees the sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional issue perpetual bonds to borrow money to buy over the highways with no fixed repayment deadlines, enabling the largest cuts to toll rates at 45%.