Nearly RM 400 million allocated to compensate toll concessionaires
The 2010 Budget, which is currently being debated in the Dewan Rakyat, allocates RM 394 million to compensate toll concessionaires for not raising toll rates, presumably in 2008.
It is listed as a “one-off” payment allocated to the Ministry of Works, though in actual fact it is by now a recurring item draining taxpayers’ money. The same item “Bayaran Pampasan Tol” cost RM 180 million in the 2009 Budget while it was RM 380 million for the 2008 budget.
I would like to make the following points:
First, it is crucial for the Government to list the recipients of this huge amount of public funds and state why it is so that the budgeted amount for 2010 is more than double that of in 2009, from RM 180 million to RM 394 million, though it was RM 380 million in 2008.
Second, the Government must rethink its approach towards toll concessionaires. While it is a populist move not to raise toll rates in 2008, the lopsided contracts between the Government and the concessionaire means that one way or the other the public is still paying for such daylight robbery.
This amount could be saved for better use if the Government acts on DAP’s proposal to renegotiate these lopsided contracts. At the least there would not be fiscal pressure on the Government to impose a RM50 credit card charge on the 11 million cardholders, which is budgeted at bringing revenue of RM 550 million to the Government.
Third, DAP has publicly articulated our proposal to “privatise” the North-South Highway from KLSE. We have estimated that by keeping the toll rate at the current level to finance the takeover, the Highway will be a freeway 7 years from the takeover day.
This will end the eternal nightmare of a 10 percent hike in toll rates once every three years.
Liew Chin Tong