KUALA LUMPUR: The acquisition of any tolled highways must keep to the promises of the government to the people, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the 18% deduction of toll charges on all PLUS highways announced under Budget 2020 on Oct 11 would stand even if the highways were acquired by the government.
"The minimum of any acquisition disposal must fulfil the conditions that there will be a minimum 18% deduction in the present toll charges.
"It must be fiscal positive. It must not increase our debt load, our debt burden or the government debt servicing charges," said Lim when asked if the takeover of any of the privately-owned PLUS highways would void the discount promised.
On Oct 11, Lim announced that the government was going ahead with the plan to acquire four highways from Gamuda Bhd.
Lim said in the Budget 2020 speech on Wednesday (Oct 11) that the takeover first announced by the Finance Ministry in June had been approved by the Cabinet.
Under the plan, the government will pay RM6.2bil to acquire the Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), Sprint Expressway (SPRINT) and SMART Tunnel (SMART).
Gamuda is a substantial shareholder in all four of these highways.
In the past few months, there have been reports that the government had received a fresh proposal to take over 15 highways, including PLUS Malaysia Bhd, for a total of RM43bil.
Quoting sources, the report said that under the proposal, Khazanah would set up a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) to be named as “highway trust” and act on behalf of the government to buy all the toll highway concessionaires.