PM denies Guan Eng launched highway buyouts without Cabinet nod

Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad arrives for a roundtable discussion with international chambers of commerce at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre August 1, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad arrives for a roundtable discussion with international chambers of commerce at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre August 1, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad refuted today a foreign news report claiming Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng initiated the proposed takeover of four highway concessions without informing the Cabinet.

The prime minister also denied that the proposal to buy out the concessions for an estimated RM6.2 billion was on hold pending a full review.  

“No such thing. The Cabinet was told about this plan by the Ministry of Finance and we have not said no.

“The date of the implementation is going to be decided by the Cabinet,” said Dr Mahathir said during a press conference here.

Yesterday, Singaporean news outlet The Straits Times published a report citing anonymous sources that claimed the proposed buyout was suspended due to concerns from within the government including ministers.

Dr Mahathir said Lim was convinced the proposed buyouts were viable but was constrained by the lack of public funds to purchase the concessions outright.

The prime minister then pointed out the proposal included a “congestion charge” that would make the entire exercise self-funding.

Lim’s ministry announced in June that a designated special purpose vehicle would raise the RM6.2 billion to finance the acquisition of the four concessionaires that would ostensibly cost taxpayers nothing.

The concessionaires involved are Kesas Sdn Bhd (Kesas), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat Sdn Bhd (Sprint), Lingkaran Trans Kota Sdn Bhd (Litrak) and Syarikat Mengurus Air Banjir dan Terowong Sdn Bhd (Smart).

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