PH scores ‘triple win’ on new PLUS arrangement, Pua tells

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

TONY Pua (picture) rebutted Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s statements on the new PLUS Malaysia Bhd deal, saying that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government bagged a “triple win” over what the previous administration had failed to do.

Pua said with the PH government, users will enjoy an 18% toll rate discount with no hike in the future; the people will benefit from over RM26 billion savings from concessionaire compensation; and the Employees Provident Fund’s dividends would not be affected when the asset value in PLUS is not depreciated as the fund manager’s equity stake in the highway operator is retained.

“Najib now feels light-headed and restless because PH has successfully scored ‘triple wins’,” the political secretary to the Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a statement yesterday.

The Damansara MP said the toll rates have never been reduced under the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration despite the concession being extended several times.

He said under BN, the toll rates would increase every three years until 2038 as fixed under the concession agreement.

He further said — while sometimes PLUS users did not have to bear toll hikes — the government would still need to pay compensation to the concessionaire, which the BN government had paid over RM3 billion to freeze the rate.

“This means that RM26 billion of compensation can be saved by the PH government throughout the concession compared to the toll rates during Najib’s time. The huge amount can be channelled to Malaysians, including Sabah and Sarawak through welfare and economic development instead of a tolled highway company,” he added.

Pua said the former prime minister’s so-called “achievement” of abolishing three PLUS toll plazas had instead led to the current government paying RM856 million of compensation still owed to PLUS.

Under BN, Pua highlighted that PLUS concession was first extended in 1999 for 12 years, from 2018 to 2030, with a 26% toll-rate increment every three to five years until 2016.

In 2005, the concession was further extended by eight years to 2038 with a 10% rate increment every three years.

In 2011, it was restructured to ensure toll rates would only increase 5% every three years, while all highway concessions under PLUS — the North-South Expressway Central Link Highway, Penang Bridge, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway, Malaysian Singapore Second Link, Seremban-Port-Dickson Highway — were extended until 2038 with their respective scheduled rate increment.

“Najib spun the toll issues because what BN had failed to achieve all this while are being fulfilled by PH,” Pua said.