Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buy Up PLUS: Yes or No?

Frankly speaking, I quite like the new Works Minister, Dato Mohd Zin Mohamed. He's the only Minister I know to date, that actually replies to every small query which was raised within any of my speeches. And when Parliament's not in session, his office will mail the answer(s) to me. I was frankly speaking, impressed. And honestly, I think (for whatever reasons), he does try to improve things within his very very limited means and scope.

But you'll certainly have to help me here with the cryptic answer he gave in a short interview with Malaysiakini after announcing the embarrassing 24-hour U-Turn of the toll rates increase for several highways.
Why can’t the government buy up the highways?

That is the principle of privatisation to nationalisation. We have to look at the financial capabilities of the government, what would be total liability, who are the shareholders. It is not also technical parameters but financial parameters we would have to address.

Are you looking into it?

I’m just defining the parameters we have to address...it is a question if whether we want to stick to privatisation vis-a-vis nationalisation.

What do you think of DAP’s proposal for the government to buy up Plus highway?

Anyone can come up (with such plans). What Tony Pua should do is not look at Plus as a standalone. The whole concession is operating as an integrated entity.

Are you rejecting his proposal?

I didn’t say that.
So what say you? I can assure you that based on the declassified contract agreements, the Government can certainly afford to "expropriate" many of these toll concessionaires.  But  I didn't understand his "operating as an integrated entity" bit, but if it's any consolation, he hasn't yet rejected our very constructive PLUS buy-back proposal ;-)
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