Abolishing tolls would have significant financial implications on Malaysia, says deputy works minister

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Abolishing tolls would be difficult to implement as it would have significant implications on the country’s financial position, Deputy Works Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said.

He said proposals to abolish tolls in this country would cause the government to pay compensation exceeding RM450 billion to concession companies.

“The estimate (cost) in 2019 to abolish tolls would require us to pay (compensation) to highway concessionaires over RM400 billion. The estimate (cost) now surely has increased, I estimate it’s around RM450 billion.

“… we know the national budget is around RM388 billion annually, if we want to abolish tolls with a value of RM450 billion within that one year period, we won’t have any salaries to give or for other purposes… I don’t see tolls being abolished,” he said while winding up the debate on the Highway Authority Malaysia (Incorporation) (Amendment) Bill 2023 in Dewan Rakyat today.

At the same time, Ahmad said the government is spending RM20 million per day for payments to highway concessionaires following the provision of free tolls during festive celebrations.

He also hinted at the possibility of free toll charges during the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

Earlier, when tabling the second reading of the bill, Ahmad said the amendments involving 16 clauses in the Highway Authority Malaysia (Incorporation) Act 1980, aimed to improve the functions and powers of the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM), besides strengthening its role as a stable, efficient and effective regulatory body in line with the government’s aspirations.

He said the amendment to the act would not have any financial implications for the government or any increase in toll rates agreed upon in the agreement between the government and concession companies.

The bill was later passed with more votes in favour after 12 government and opposition MPs participated in the debate session.

Meanwhile, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill 2023, tabled for the second reading by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) M. Kulasegaran, was also passed today.

The amendments aim to improve the provisions for joint assistance in criminal matters between Malaysia and other countries.

According to the bill, the Attorney-General, in certain circumstances, may request assistance in criminal matters directly to the relevant authorities, as determined by the foreign country concerned. — Bernama




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