Malaysia: Plan to take over 4 highways on hold

  • Putrajaya’s plan to acquire four tolled highways controlled by Gamuda Bhd for MYR6.2bn is on hold due to internal disagreement over the Finance Ministry-led proposal, said the Straits Times.
  • A minister told the Singapore paper that “the whole matter is on hold pending a full review”.
  • The review is being held because Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced the plan and offered it to Gamuda shareholders without cabinet approval, the source added.
  • The proposal “exposed cracks” in Pakatan Harapan, with critics of the plan saying it was costlier than necessary.
  • The ministry’s plan for replacing toll with reduced congestion charges would also be insufficient to service the debt taken for the acquisition.
  • Supporters of the plan, however, said it can be a model for the government to fulfil its election promise to abolish tolls.
  • The plan to take over the four highways – Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas), and the Smart Tunnel – was announced in Feb 19.
  • It is known that the Works Ministry had conducted a separate study that disagreed with the takeover of the four highways.
  • According to sources, the study instead recommended an alternative mechanism. But Lim has defended the proposal, saying it would cost the government MYR18bn in compensation to highway operators if it were to freeze toll hikes.

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