KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has decided to delay its pledge to abolish highway tolls in Malaysia due to the state of public finances, Works Minister Baru Bian told Parliament today.
He explained that while the government was fully aware of the difficulties in delivering the pledge, it must postpone the move due to the costs involved.
“The estimated reparation costs for abolishing tolls would be more than RM400 billion.
“With that, after taking into consideration other factors, the government agreed to delay the abolishment of tolls until the country’s economic situation stabilises and allows for it,” he said.
Some PH leaders previously asserted that the removal of tolls would be trivial, saying the government could buy out most of the concessions at minimal costs.
The pact pledged to repeal highway tolls as part of its manifesto for the 14th general election.
The minister was responding to a question posted to him by Datuk Jalaluddin Alias (BN-Jelebu) during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat this morning.
When pressed by Jalaluddin on the possible options, such as discounted rates instead of complete abolishment, Baru stressed the PH government would be responsible and not make hasty decisions.
“The new PH government is responsible and practical at the same time.
“After we took over, we knew the real financial situation of the country, and that is why we decided to delay the decision,” he explained.
He added that at the same time, the government will look at other avenues to lower the cost of living.
“We will see other options which are practical and will bring down the cost of living,” he said.