By Christine Tay
From 1999 to 2011, BN didn’t just extend the concessionary period for PLUS tolls. Worse, BN even allowed these toll rates to increase! In 1999, BN first extended the concessionary period from 2018 to 2030 and allowed PLUS toll rates to hike at a whopping 26% every 3-5 years. Then in 2005, this period was once again extended from 2030 to 2038 where BN revised toll rates to increase 10% every 3 years.
Finally, in 2011, PLUS toll rates were restructured to increase 5% every 3 years while the concessionary period for other PLUS-managed highways was extended until 2038. Of course, these other highways were also subjected to their respective toll hikes.
Under BN, toll rates never once went down despite the fact that BN extended the concessionary period several times. To rub salt into the wound, the agreement that BN signed with PLUS actually allowed toll rates to hike every 3 years. Why would BN allow it if they truly cared about the people? Did all these extra charges “masuk poket” as usual?
Sure, BN has claimed that it didn’t always increase toll rates during its term. However, not increasing toll rates came with a steep price that BN deceitfully covered up and concealed from the rakyat. It meant that BN was actually liable to pay PLUS compensation for breaching the agreement. And just where does this compensation come from, Najib’s own pocket? No! Najib used RM3 billion of taxpayers’ money, our money, to freeze toll rates and pay PLUS that compensation!
On the other hand, under the Pakatan Harapan government, Malaysians can actually enjoy 18% less toll rates for the very first time ever in highway history. What’s even better is that these toll rates will not increase until 2058, which is when the concessionary period ends. Compare this to toll rates increasing at least 5% every 3 years under BN, time after time after time.
To top it up, Pakatan Harapan does not need to pay a single cent of RM26 billion in compensation to PLUS for keeping toll rates at a flat rate until 2058. So what does this mean for ordinary Malaysians? With the government saving a massive RM26 billion, these savings will go back to the people in terms of welfare and economic development. PH will rebuild Malaysia from scratch, for us, for our children, and for future generations. Every Malaysian will benefit, not just highway users, and this includes those in Sabah and Sarawak. Private companies like PLUS will most certainly not benefit, and these savings will most certainly not masuk PH’s poket.
Now, let’s not forget Najib’s favourite argument of how he abolished three PLUS tolls in 2018. This so-called “achievement” of Najib actually caused the government to be saddled with an enormous debt of RM856 billion payable to PLUS. Has he ever come clean about it? No! He has spouted nothing but half-truths and lies about this whole issue!
Thankfully, under the new PLUS agreement recently announced by our Prime Minister, this RM856 billion debt has been written off and the Pakatan Harapan government no longer has to inherit it. Naturally, this frees the government to channel these savings into rebuilding the country that would benefit every single Malaysian, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Najib has clearly failed to fulfil BN’s own 2013 manifesto that unmistakably promised Malaysians he would reduce toll rates. Yet, despite his spectacular failure, he still has the nerve to spread false information about PH and criticise the government for lowering toll rates. 9 years in power, and Najib’s administration has nothing legitimate to show in this regard. In comparison, in less than 2 years after coming into power, Pakatan Harapan has already reduced toll rates by 18%, permanently stopped toll rates from increasing once and for all, saved RM26 billion of taxpayers’ money, all the while preserving the interests of EPF account holders.