Toll-free highways not possible, says Dr M

BALI (Bernama): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) says it's not possible to have highways without the collection of toll.

The Prime Minister said that he was against the toll-free highways pledge in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.

"We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government, and this manifesto is a big burden.

"But, at that time, I was against it lah. I know to have a freeway... you cannot. The only way to have freeways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol," he told Bernama and RTM at the conclusion of the inaugural Asean Leaders' Gathering here Thursday (Oct 11).

Elaborating on the toll issue, he asked who would maintain the roads or build new roads if the government did away with toll collection.

"You tell the private sector to do the roads. They want to make money, but if you don't have toll, how can you make money?" Dr Mahathir said.

He added that in England, there were no toll roads but the country imposed a heavy tax on petroleum and when the petroleum price went up, the tax went up even higher.

"So, they use that money. But if you get the money out of the sale of petroleum, people who do not use the highway also have to pay.

"But here, (highway) users pay. This is our belief. The users pay; those people who are not using (the roads), why should they pay?" said Dr Mahathir.

He said the Pakatan government would need to review its pledges as some of them would impose great losses if implemented.

The meeting of Asean leaders Dr Mahathir attended was held on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and carried the theme "Achieving

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Overcoming Development Gap through Regional and Global Collaborative Actions".

This is the Prime Minister's second visit to Indonesia after Malaysia's historic general election in May, and the first engagement at the Asean level ahead of the 10-member group's summit next month in Singapore. — Bernama

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