KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not rush into making a decision on the abolishment of highway toll collection; instead, it will conduct further studies on the matter as it involves the interests of many, including toll concessionaires.
Deputy Works Minister Mohd Anuar Tahir said the ministry is in discussions with the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM), which works closely with the concessionaires.
He said although this was among the promises in Pakatan Harapan’s 100-day manifesto, the move to abolish the toll requires thorough research.
“In this matter, the government also has to be responsible for all quarters, including the concessionaire holders, employees who will be affected, and others.
“The move would be carried out in stages and would take time,” he told NSTP.
The minister said several agencies, including the Finance Ministry and Transport Ministry, are involved in studying the move.
“We are also taking into account the views of stakeholders such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) which has a stake in PLUS Malaysia Bhd.
Mohd Anuar was commenting on remarks by EPF executive officer Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, who had said that it is unlikely that the government would be able to abolish toll collection within the promised 100 days. This, he reasoned, was due to the complexity of the issue and that the government had other priorities to address.
Mohd Anuar’s views were echoed by economist Datuk Jalilah Baba, who said the abolition of toll collection is a complicated process and required the buy-in from various parties.
She said the 100-day deadline wasn’t as important as studying the plan for any flaws which may arise.
”Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that the manifesto is not a ‘bible’. There are things which can be done in 100 days and there are others which require careful study.
“Any decision made has be compatible with existing laws and regulations, not to mention the need to be aware of its impact on relevant parties as well as the people,” she said.
She said a study must also be done to assess how much the public will save if the move goes through.
“The intention may be noble, which is to help the people with the economic burden. But what about other related costs related to government agreements with the toll concessionaires? Will there be any penalties involved?”
Jalilah added that other than the toll dilemma, there were also other pressing matters the government needs to prioritise such as the cost of living and the cost of conducting business.