Malaysia

Selangor to use stake in highway companies to reject toll hike

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
December 18, 2013
Latest Update: December 18, 2013 02:48 pm

Anwar (right) with PKR's Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, during a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya this morning. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, December 18, 2013.Anwar (right) with PKR's Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, during a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya this morning. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, December 18, 2013.The Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government will reject the impending toll hike through shares it owns in two highway concessionaires, according to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The state government owns 30% of the Kesas highway through state-owned Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) and 20% in Sprint and the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) through Kumpulan Perangsang.

Anwar told reporters today that he has discussed the matter with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, and they have agreed to use the state's minority shares to oppose the toll hike.

"I understand that the issue will be brought to the state exco meeting today and orders will be given out to government representatives in the highway consortium involved, to reject the hike in toll.

"They have a right to object as minority shareholders," he added.

Anwar said the Selangor government will also impose strict terms and conditions on companies involved in building new highways like DASH, KIDEX, SUKE and KLORR, he said.

He said construction of new highways will be allowed only if the terms were fair to the public and were strictly adhered to by the federal government and the concessionaires.

In addition, the state government would only allow companies to take state land and manage it for highways if conditions pertaining to fair toll prices and responsibility to the people of Selangor were fulfilled.

"These are part of the measures which will be taken by the state government to curb the increase in toll,” he said

Lashing out at the federal government, the PKR de-facto leader said the state would use its stake in the highway companies to protect the people's interest.

"That is why I am disputing the statements by Barisan Nasional ministers who said the hike cannot be avoided as it is in the concession agreement.

"I am also rejecting the excuse given by BN that the government has no power to curb the toll hike," he said.

Anwar, who is a former finance minister before he was sacked in 1998, said his experience “convinced” him that the government had to be “careful with the multifold” profits earned by highway concessionaires.

"These highway concessionaires have already gained their profits,” he said.

He also took to task Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, over his statement that motorists who do not agree to the toll hike could use alternative routes.

"We provide alternative routes for those willing to pay a premium. For those who think the rate is too high, they have the option not to use the route," Abdul Wahid had said. 

Anwar described Abdul Wahid as arrogant.

“He is not a chief corporate of a bank. He is a minister. He should have been more sensitive to the people's problems.”

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli, who was also present, said the Selangor government wanted to show Putrajaya that it can reject toll hikes even if the new rates would mean more profits for the state.

"A similar attitude must be adopted by the federal government through all the agencies which hold shares in these concessionaires.

"If we can do it with Kesas, Sprint and LDP, they also can through PNB, EPF," he said.

It was reported that there would be a hike of between 30 sen and RM1 in toll rates involving 13 highways, mainly in the Klang Valley.

Wahid had cited Putrajaya's agreements with highway concessionaires as the reason why it could not stop toll hikes.

He said the government has to fork out RM400 million as compensation to these companies after it froze a revision of toll rates in 2011. - December 18, 2013.