Rafizi says toll rate hikes unwarranted, cites 'obscene' profits

A Malaysian highway user pays a toll station in Kuala Lumpur. Rafizi pointed out that PLUS Berhad enjoyed a pre-tax profit of RM2.5 billion in 2011.  — AFP pic
A Malaysian highway user pays a toll station in Kuala Lumpur. Rafizi pointed out that PLUS Berhad enjoyed a pre-tax profit of RM2.5 billion in 2011. — AFP pic

PETALING JAYA, Dec 17 — Profit margins as high as 121 per cent enjoyed by some highway concessionaires cast doubt over the need to raise toll charges by as much as RM2.00 next year, said PKR’s Rafizi Ramli today.

The Pandan MP pointed out that PLUS Berhad, which operates six highways, enjoyed a pre-tax profit of RM2.5 billion in 2011 or approximately 61 per cent of revenue, while Litrak, the operators of Puchong-Damansara Expressway (LDP) and Sprint, registered a profit before tax of RM180 million or 49 per cent. 

Another concessionaire, Kesas Highway, recorded 121 per cent profit annually from 2008 to 2012.

“Seeing that the cost to maintain the highways is only 6 per cent of the total toll collection each year, this shows that the current toll rate is too high and gives multiple profits to PLUS,” Rafizi told a press conference at the PKR headquarters here today.

Rafizi said that based on PLUS Berhad’s 2011 financial statement and annual report, the toll concessionaire collected RM4.098 billion in toll in 2011, but spent just RM241 million as maintenance costs in 2010.

The PKR strategic director also noted that based on Litrak Berhad’s latest annual report of its 2013 finances, the maintenance cost for highways was a mere six per cent of the RM369 million collected in toll.

Rafizi further claimed that the number of vehicles plying the various highways has been increasing over the years, thus making it unnecessary to increase toll rates.

In 2010, there were an estimated 417 million vehicles using the PLUS highway, which was eight per cent higher than the previous year.

The LDP recorded a 3.3 per cent increase this year to 497,000 vehicles a week, while Sprint registered a 4.4 per cent increase this year to 237,000 vehicles weekly.

Kesas recorded a 5 per cent growth this year to 290,000 vehicles a day, while Maju Expressway recorded 78,962 vehicles daily in 2010, which was 8.1 per cent higher than the estimated figure in its agreement.

“With low operating costs, such as maintenance costs not even reaching 10 per cent of toll collection for certain highways, their profits are among the highest, compared to other industries,” said Rafizi.

English daily the New Straits Times quoted Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof today as saying that the toll rates for 15 major highways are expected to rise next year by between 50 sen and RM2.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said recently that it was impossible to stop toll rate hikes next year due to the concession agreement between the government and highway concession companies.

He said the government had to fork out RM400 million in compensation to toll concessionaires after it froze a revision of the toll rates that were meant to be implemented in 2011 under the concession agreement.

The minister said yesterday, however, that all future highway projects must be accompanied with studies to determine rates that are acceptable to the public before concessions are awarded.

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