KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — The government is in the process of studying a proposal to put all 35 highways including six that are currently under construction under one highway trust body.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said this is the government’s effort to reduce the toll rate including for PLUS.

“There is a proposal, for example, by one company to have a highway trust, putting everything in a trust.

“By doing so toll rates could probably be lower but as of now this is still a work in progress, as it is very complicated, we have to go through the details. It would take some time before it is finalised,” he said during TV3’s Money Matters programme today.

Among the main highways in the country include PLUS, which is owned by UEM Group, such as the North-South Expressway and North-South Expressway Central Link, while the rest include East Coast Expressway, Kuala Lumpur-Karak Expressway and others.

At the same time, he said the government would also relook all the terms of agreement agreed by the previous government, involving reduction in toll rate for PLUS.

“This study is in the discussion stage and is expected to complete in the next six months. I don’t want to promise to reduce the toll rate.

“What we are implementing is to relook at all terms to ensure the best agreement for all five stakeholders... this involved seven of the 35 toll highways, and we will also review the rest,” he said.

Among the biggest stakeholders in the country’s highway concessions are Khazanah Nasional and the Employees’ Provident Fund.

Meanwhile, an equity analyst said that the move to centralise all highway concessionaires under one roof would be able to stabilise the toll price for the long run.

“However, we need to admit that when everything is centralised, profit made by highway concessionaires will also be reduced. Selling on certain stocks might be inevitable, but it would not be long as the main shareholders are the key role players,” she said.

On the impact on the people, she said the move will reduce the burden of frequent highway users especially those travelling to work on a daily basis.

“Highway users might save up a bit in the longer run. But, for now, we shall just wait and see how many per cent of the cut might take place,” she said. — Bernama