KUALA LUMPUR: The best way forward is not to sell highway concessionaire PLUS to anybody but to reduce the toll rates, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the Cabinet has decided that PLUS will remain in the hands of national sovereign fund Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
He added that the Cabinet took a long time to make a decision because they listened to all the offers put forward by the private sector before deciding based on what is best for the people.
He said PLUS will have to reduce the toll rate by 18% and based on today’s rate the rate will be low in 30 years’ time.
He added that the reduction of 18% is for 30 years.
While admitting that the traffic on the highway will increase, “the value and purchasing power of the ringgit will go down, so what they earn will not be as big as people think.”
“Traffic will grow but the earnings will not be as big as the original concession,“ Mahathir told the media after launching the Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s Balai Islam complex, which fulfilled the Green Building Index criteria.
He said the reduction will be immediate, commencing this year.
PLUS is owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd (51%) and EPF (49%).
On the appointment of Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed as chairman of the Leading Bumiputera Agenda Unit (Teraju), he said Mustapa, or Tok Pa as he is also known, has the requisite experience and there are very few people in government with such experience.
“We need to have some people with experience in government,“ Mahathir said.
Mustapa had served in the previous government as a minister and deputy minister from 1993 until 2009.
On the school breakfast scheme, the prime minister said the Education Ministry will continue with it.
“The scheme aims to help the less well-off students but at the moment those who can afford have breakfast at home as well as under the programme. This is not fair.”
Mahathir said the government will go ahead with the programme and try to identify more students who need help.
On the Ponggal issue, he said Malaysians have an obsession with religious rituals.
He said people have a right to practice their faith but we must not try to compete with each other.
A circular from the Education Ministry but originating from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) described Ponggal as a “religious festival”.
It went viral on social media, triggering public uproar.
Ponggal is actually the Tamil harvest festival celebrated with offerings of sweet rice milk as thanksgiving. — Bernama