In tit-for-tat, Najib tells Tony Pua money from BN’s toll buyout went to public pockets

Najib has been critical of PH’s planned buyout of four toll concessions, claiming taxpayers will ultimately fund the RM6.2 billion deal. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Najib has been critical of PH’s planned buyout of four toll concessions, claiming taxpayers will ultimately fund the RM6.2 billion deal. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Barisan Nasional paid compensation to abolish two toll concessions as part of a buyout agreement that made the Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau highways free, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asserted in reply to the Pakatan Harapan’s initiative to take back four Klang Valley highways.

The former prime minister and past finance minister said the public ultimately benefited from the deal as money from the compensation went straight back into public pockets via the Employers Provident Funds and the Ministry of Finance, the two biggest shareholders of PLUS Expressways.

PLUS Expressways was the operator of the Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau tolls.

“In 2011 we bought PLUS fully from private hands so that 51 and 49 per cent of the company is owned by the Malaysian government and EPF respectively,” Najib wrote on his Facebook page last night.

“After the buyout we renegotiated the concession agreement. We extended the concession to 20 years so that the 10 per cent rate increase for every two years agreed upon by the 4th PM (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) would be reduced to just 5 per cent every three years.”

Najib added that no tolls under PLUS had the collection increased throughout his tenure.

The former prime minister has been critical of PH’s planned buyout of four toll concessions. He claimed taxpayers will ultimately fund the RM6.2 billion deal, and that the move would benefit private concessionaires.

Najib claimed the agreed price for the buyout was 2.7 times above the book price.

Special Advisor to the Finance Minister Tony Pua in response accused Najib of misleading the public.

The Damansara MP said the BN administration itself had paid compensation worth billions of ringgit to abolish the Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasah tolls and extended the concession.

Pua also claimed paying off concessionaires were among the reasons why Najib rolled out the Goods and Services Tax, an unpopular levy that PH controversially rolled back soon after taking power.

Pua had said on July 6 that the government’s plan to buy out four toll concessions will be “entirely self-financed” through the collection of congestion charges, not by raising debt.

The Finance Ministry (MoF) said in June a designated special purpose vehicle (SPV) would be raising RM6.2 billion to finance the acquisition of the four concessionaires, but Pua said taxpayers will not bear any cost.

Three of the four concessions have agreed to the buyout in principle.

Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Bhd (Litrak) and Litrak’s associate company Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat Holdings Sdn Bhd (Sprint Holdings) have resolved to accept the government’s offer to take over the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and Sprint highway.

Gamuda Bhd and Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd had earlier announced they were in favour of accepting MoF Inc’s offer for their 30 per cent and 20 per cent equity interest, respectively, in Sprint Holdings.

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