KUALA LUMPUR: Cabinet Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (pic) has given his thumbs up to the offer made by Maju Holdings that it will not raise toll rates for 20 years if it is successful in acquiring PLUS highways.
Describing it like a ‘durian runtuh’ (huge windfall), the Tourism and Culture Minister said the Government would find it difficult to pay compensation to highway concessionaires following its decision not to raise toll rates.
“Everytime the Government discusses about toll hikes, there will be a big problem. We will have to think about the rakyat. With a proposal like this, the Government would be able to save almost RM1bil and use it to the benefit of the people,” he said during a press conference at the Ministry’s programme in Muzium Negara, yesterday.
Nazri was asked to respond to the RM36bil proposal made by Maju Holdings that pledged that it will not raise toll fares for 20 years if it manages to take over PLUS highways.
The two shareholders of PLUS Malaysia Bhd are the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the UEM Group Berhad, with UEM Group Bhd owning a total of a 51% stake in PLUS while EPF holds the rest of the stake.
It was reported that Maju Holdings executive chairman Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed had previously made public his intention to acquire PLUS.
Last Wednesday, two shareholders of PLUS Malaysia Bhd – the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and UEM Group Bhd – have reiterated that they have no intention to sell their stakes in the country’s largest highway concessionaire.
The acquisition plan is believed to cost over RM30bil involving both the stakes held by UEM and EPF.
Nazri said the offer would also bring benefit to the public as the offer also shows that Maju Holdings intends to undertake improvements to the infrastructures such as lighting up the entire highway.
“To us, we no longer have to think about how to pay that huge amount of money to the toll concessionaires. If it happens, I will feel a bit relieved,” he said.
“I welcome this and I hope all the stakeholders can sit down with Maju Holdings to make it happen. I will also strongly persuade other Cabinet members to support this to ease the financial burden of the government,” he said.
He also hit out at former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saying that such deals with concessionaires have been made under his administration then.
“This all happened during his time. If we do not allow concessionaires to raise tolls, we will have to fork out money. This is the “smart and brilliant” deals that had troubled us now,” he said.