Dr M denies proposed takeover of highways put on hold

Dr M denies proposed takeover of highways put on hold

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today denied that the proposed RM6.2 billion takeover of four highway concessionaires has been put on hold pending a review.

He also refuted a news report saying that the plan was initiated without the approval of the Cabinet.

“No, there is no such thing. The Cabinet was told about this plan by the Finance Ministry and we have not said no.

“But it is the date of the implementation that is going to be decided by the Cabinet,” he told a news conference after chairing a round-table discussion with the international chambers of commerce on ‘Empowering Malaysia’s Workforce, Nurturing Talent for the Future’ here.

Mahathir was asked to comment on a news report by the Singapore Straits Times which quoted an unnamed minister as saying that the takeover has been put on hold due to internal disagreement over the Finance Ministry-led proposal.

The four highways involved in the proposed takeover are the Damansara-Puchong Expressway, Sprint Expressway, Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) and the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART Tunnel).

“The Finance Ministry seems to be convinced it can be done. Our problem is that we don’t have the money.

“But the Finance Ministry said that by charging during the peak hours, they can get enough funds to pay for the acquisition of these four highways.

“We will have to see whether it will be enough or not,” said Mahathir.

On related matter, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah said that the RM6.2 billion price tag that the government has offered to take over the four toll highway concessions is not final.

The government, he said, will carry out due diligence process to determine the final value of the highways.

“If the due diligence process finds that the value is too low or too high … something must be done. The value is not final,” he told media at the Islamic Finance Innofest 2019 today.

According to him, what is important for the Pakatan Harapan government is to fulfil its election manifesto of reducing and eliminating tolls.

“The bottom line is that we hope it will have a positive impact on road users and it will not burden the government financially,” said Amiruddin.