Taxpayers and not users will pay the RM2 billion says Finance Minister

(Bernama) – The takeover of four highway concessions by the government and introduction of a congestion charge to replace the current toll system will save users up to RM2 billion, says the Finance Ministry.

The four highways are the LDP, Sprint, Kesas and SMART Tunnel highways.

Minister Lim Guan Eng told the Dewan Rakyat that the concession charge to be introduced will in principle give up to 30 per cent discounts for travel during normal hours and free travel during off-peak hours between 11pm and 5am.

“Users of these highways will enjoy savings of up to RM180 million a year this means they will save up to RM2 billion over the highways’ concession period,” he said in reply to a question from Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) on the rationale behind the government’s takeover of the four highway concessions.

Lim said the concession period of the four highways is between nine and 20 years, adding the period will not be extended after the takeover.

“After the concession ends, the congestion charge will be further reduced in order to cover only the operating and maintenance costs, without any profit element,” he said.

On February 23, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced a proposal to take over the four highway concession companies, and on June 21 the Finance Ministry officially made a conditional offer to acquire the four concessionaires.