Budget 2020: Government to reduce highway tolls, improve public transportation and roads

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng tables Budget 2020 in Parliament October 11, 2019.― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng tables Budget 2020 in Parliament October 11, 2019.― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — The federal government is committed to enhance the mobility of Malaysians by reducing transport costs, improving roads and reducing tolls.

They government intends to invest RM450 million to acquire up to 500 electric buses of various sizes for public transport in selected cities nationwide.

Further support for last-mile connectivity in rural and urban areas will be established by subsidising the bus operators with an allocation of RM146 million in 2020.

Upgrading of the rail tracks from George Line between Halogilat Station to Tenom Station in Sabah has been planned at a cost of RM50 million while the government are inviting proposals for the upgrading of Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport on public private partnership basis.

“Another pressing issue the government seeks to address is improving the congestion problem at Johor Causeway, whereby over 300,000 Malaysians commute daily to Singapore.

“To better ease congestion at the Causeway and 2nd Link, the government will invest RM85 million beginning 2020 towards enhancing vehicle and traffic flow through the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex,” said finance minister Lim Guan Eng during the tabling of Budget 2020 today.

“An additional 50 counters will be opened for motorcyclists and with streamlining of immigration and PLUS counters. As part of a longer term solution to address the congestion, the government intends to proceed with the Rapid Transit System between Johor Baru and Singapore.”

Lim also touched on the toll reduction and concessions with the goal to abolish toll collection gradually, which was part of Pakatan Harapan’s campaign manifesto.

He said the Cabinet will consider proposals including those from Khazanah Nasional Berhad to acquire or dispose of all shares of PLUS Malaysia Berhad.

“There will be a minimum reduction of average toll charges by 18 per cent discount across all PLUS highways.

“Such proposals must be fiscal positive without increasing the present debt burden or the debt services charges of the government.

“At the same time, the 18 per cent discount on toll charges for the North South Highway will save highway users up to RM1,130 million in 2020, and RM43 billion over the entire concession period until 2038,” said Lim.

The Cabinet has approved an offer to acquire four Klang Valley highways — Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), Sprint Expressway (SPRINT) and SMART Tunnel (SMART) to be funded via government-guaranteed borrowings.

With the introduction of congestion charges that will be lowered by up to 30 per cent of the present toll rates during near peak and normal hours and free during off-peak hours, this will provide a savings to the highway users of nearly RM180 million a year, or RM2 billion over the respective concession periods.

There will be no extension of the existing concessions.

“The acquisition of these highways will not burden the government because the financing, operations and maintenance costs will be entirely funded by the collection of toll and congestion charges without requiring any future funding by the government,” Lim explained.

“Clearly, this government rejects the previous government’s policy of privatising profits and socialising losses.

“During Belanjawan 2019, the government abolished the toll for motorcycles for the First and Second Penang Bridge. Towards aligning the toll rates between the First and Second Penang Bridge, effective 1 January 2020, the toll rates for cars at the Second Penang Bridge will be reduced from RM8.50 to RM7,” added Lim.

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