Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Najib’s toll freebie meant to entice Harapan supporters will only going to cost BN voters more

In Friday’s 2018 Budget speech, one of the big “goodies” that the Prime Minister announced was the abolishment of 4 tolls at Sg Rasau, Batu Tiga, Bukit Kayu Hitam and on the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL).

On the surface, it looks like the Najib administration is hard pressed to replicate the Pakatan Harapan Alternative Budget which promised abolishing all highway tolls over time.

However, before Malaysians decides to rejoice, the first question that arises is how the government intends to compensate the existing toll concessionaires for their loss of revenue.

The Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani very quickly burst the balloons by admitting that the government is looking at increasing the concession period for other tolls belonging to concessionaires as compensation.

This simply means that Malaysians will end paying toll fares for longer periods.

More specifically however, the tolls abolished were located in Selangor, a state which Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is only too eager to regain; and in Kedah as well as Johor, where BN is at the risk of losing with the twin threats of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The 3 tolls at Sg Rasau, Batu Tiga and Bukit Kayu Hitam are owned by PLUS Malaysia Bhd. As a result, compensation for abolishing just three tolls will see the extension of its concession on any other highway under its management including the North-South Expressway, Seremban-Port Dickson Highway, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway, Malaysia-Singapore Second Link.

Very simply, the burden of the political move by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to “free” the tolls in Selangor, Kedah and Johor will be “shared” by BN supporters in other parts of the country.  It appears to make a lot more sense to demonstrate support Pakatan Harapan because then, the BN government will actually show more love for you.

That however, isn’t the whole story.

The EDL is currently owned by MRCB, who just so happens is desperately looking to sell the loss-making highway.  MRCB also doesn’t own any other highway assets.

Hence the only way for the EDL toll to be abolished is for the Federal Government to fork out multi-billion ringgit compensation for MRCB.  Therefore, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must come clean as to how much tax-payers must fork out to pay for the EDL and how the compensation is calculated.

The rakyat’s biggest fear is the Najib administration bailing out highway concessionaires, further proving that BN’s intrinsic economic policy is to “privatise profits and socialize losses”.

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