Success In Postponing Toll Hikes A Small Victory Because Malaysians Still Have To Pay Indirectly RM59.77 Million Through The Federal Government, In The Form Of Compensation Payment To The 4 Toll Concessionaires. (e/c)

Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 4.11.2016.

The decision by the BN Federal government to postpone toll hikes for highways until end of 2017 shows that BN had bowed to public pressure, following public unhappiness with rising prices following the hike in petrol and cooking oil prices. Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said today that the Cabinet had on October 12 decided to postpone the restructuring for toll rates in 2016 and 2017. This is in contrast to his reply to my parliamentary question on 1.11.2016 that four highways are entitled to hike toll rates next year:-
• Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL),
• Kajang-Seremban Highway (Lekas),
• Senai-Desaru Expressway (SDE), and
• Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE).

Fadillah said that if the toll hike was deferred the Federal government would have to pay toll compensation for the four highways in 2017 for RM59.77 million. As the 2017 Budget did not provide for any toll compensation payments, ordinary Malaysians will have to bear the full brunt of the toll hikes.

Clearly BN is exercising damage control to avoid public opprobrium by saying that the Federal government will absorb the RN59.77 million payment in compensation to defer toll hikes. This is a small victory for consumers because even if we do not have to pay the toll hikes directly, Malaysians still have to pay up indirectly RM59.77 million through the Federal government, in the form of compensation.

As this RM59.77 million toll compensation is not provided for in the 2017 Budget, can Fadillah Yusof state where is the money coming from? Will the concession period of the four highways be further extended in lieu of paying compensation, just like the extension of the concession period for the North-South Expressway by an extra 20 years from 2018 to 2038.

The key issue is toll concessions which are against public interest that benefit crony companies at the expense of ordinary Malaysians. Whilst DAP does not oppose toll operators getting back their capital investment and construction cost, why should they be allowed traffic volume guarantees, guaranteed profits and even extraordinary profits collected even after the initial construction cost has been recouped?

EPF Contributors Would Prefer To Have A Toll-Free North-South Highway Than Get The Benefits Of A Miserable 10% Return From Their 49% Share Equity Investment In PLUS.
A prime example of such unfair toll concessions against public interest is the North-South Expressway. Fadillah had claimed that Plus Highways Berhad(Plus) is not a crony company because it was privatized in 2011 and 51% was owned by the Federal government and 49% by EPF.

Clearly Fadillah is either playing political games or pretends to forget the sordid history behind Plus or the construction of the North-South Highway by UEM. At its inception, the North-South Highway project is a crony project. I will however give Fadillah the benefit of the doubt that he is neither involved nor aware the chronology of events, since he is from Sarawak and not from Peninsular Malaysia.

Fadillah added that EPF’s ownership of Plus Highways gave contributors a stable return of 10% every year and that toll charges for the North-South Highway had not been increased for the past 11 years. I wish to challenge Fadillah to ask the 14.55 million Employee Provident Fund (EPF) members whether they would prefer to have a toll-free North-South Highway, than get the benefits of a miserable 10% return from their 49% share equity investment in Plus.

I am positive that EPF members will stand together with 30 million Malaysians in wanting a toll-free North-South Highway. There is no justification for the North South Highway to collect toll when it has fully recouped its construction cost and capital expenditure of RM5.9 billion. Costs incurred in land acquisition were covered by the Federal government.

Fadillah had earlier said until the end of 2015, the overall toll collected for the North-South Expressway alone was RM36.39 billion. Furthermore, the total amount of compensation paid out by the Federal government to PLUS following the deferment in toll hikes until 2015 was RM917.1 million. In other words, this RM 36.39 billion collected from Malaysians, is 6 times more than the construction cost of RM 5.9 billion.

Even if we took into account maintenance and widening of roads, such extra costs cannot exceed the RM36.9 billion collected from the public. For that reason, toll collection should be abolished. In the interests of full accounting, what are the costs of maintenance of the North-South Highway yearly that is not inflated by Plus but subject to due diligence and accounting scrutiny? Since Plus has recouped its capital expenditure why have the toll rates not gone down to reflect only maintenance costs?

LIM GUAN ENG

民主行动党秘书长兼峇眼区国会议员林冠英于2016年11月4日在吉隆发表的声明:

成功展延大道过路费调涨,算是马来西亚人民的一场小胜利,因为我们依然需要间接地为联邦政府支付4家大道特许经营公司的5977万令吉赔偿埋单。

国阵政府决定将大道收费调涨的决定展延至2017年年杪之后,显示了国阵终于向民众压力低头,因为民间的怨气随着汽油及食用油飙涨而高涨。公共工程部部长法迪拉昨日说,内阁在10月12日议决,展延所有原定将在2016及2017年调涨的大道过路费。这与他本身于2016年11月1日在国会下议院回答我的提问时,所给予的答案是完全相反的。当时他的答复是以下的4条大道,是可以在明年起调涨其收费:

· 柔佛州东部疏散大道(EDL)

· 加影芙蓉大道(LEKAS)

· 士乃迪沙鲁大道(SDE)

· 牙直利走廊大道(GCE)

法迪拉说,若大道延迟调整收费,联邦政府于2017年就得对4大道做出5977万令吉的赔偿。而在2017年的财政预算案之中,并未预留赔偿金予大道公司,换言之,普罗百姓就得自行承担大道涨价带来的冲击。

很明显的国阵正努力地将伤害程度减至最低,他们为了避免民众的反对声浪,而称联邦政府将会吸纳这5977万令吉的赔偿,作为展延大道调涨的赔偿。这对消费者而言算是一场小胜利,因为尽管我们不需要直接缴付调涨的过路费,但是全马来西亚的人民依然需要为这笔透过联邦政府支付的5977万令吉赔偿埋单。

当这笔5977万令吉的赔偿并没在2017年财政预算中拨出,那么法迪拉可否指出这些钱要从哪里来?难道是以延长四条大道的特许经营权作为赔偿?就好像南北大道额外延长20年的特许经营权,从2018年延长至2038年。

最重要的课题是过路费的特许经营权乃违背公众利益,只是让全马人民花钱图利朋党公司。行动党并没有反对经营者赚回他们的投资及建筑成本,但为何他们却可获得交通流量担保、利润担保甚至是在收回原有的建筑费后仍旧继续收集超额的暴利?

缴交公积金者宁可选择免过路费的南北大道,亦不妄想天开地想从大道公司投资的49%股权中获取10%回酬。

南北大道的特许经营权有悖公众利益。法迪拉却称,大道公司不是朋党,因为它在2011年已经私营化,现在联邦政府掌握51%的股权,公积金局者占49%。

显然的,法迪拉正在玩弄政治游戏,或者是他装着不知道大道公司或UEM在进行南北大道工程时背后的龌龊历史。在大家的认知中,南北大道毫无疑问就是一个朋党的计划。无论如何,面对种种疑点,我愿意将利益归于法迪拉,相信来自砂拉越而非西马的他,并没有牵涉其中及不清楚事件的进展。

法迪拉也说,公积金局在大道公司的投资,为公积金的会员们提供了稳固的报酬,让大家每年能够得到10% 的回酬。而大道收费在过去11年亦没有再提升。我挑战法迪拉去询问1455万个公积金会员,问问他们要选择免过路费的南北大道,亦还是不妄想天开地想从大道公司投资的49%股权中获取10%回酬。

我相信公积金会员一定会与全体3000万大马人站在一起要求一条免收费的南北大道。当所有南北大道59亿令吉的建筑费及投资早已经回本,继续征收过路费是不公义的措举,因为征地的费用早已经由联邦政府承担。

法迪拉较早前说截至2015年底,南北大道所收集的总过路费是363亿9000万令吉。而且,2015年为了阻止大道过路费调涨联邦政府已经共赔偿给大道公司9亿1710万令吉。换言之,大道公司所收到的363亿9000万令吉的过路费已经高过建造费用59亿令吉的6倍。

即便我们把道路维修、扩建,这些额外成本也不可能高过向公众所收到的363亿9000万令吉过路费。因此,过路费必须取消。作为利益问责,大道公司却没提起每年在南北大道的维修成本到底是多少,这不是应该仔细认真审核的吗?既然大道公司已经投资回本,那为何过路费却没有因为只剩下维修成本而调降呢?

林冠英

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