PETALING JAYA: Two economists have warned the government against rushing to abolish highway tolls, urging it to consider other alternatives instead.
Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University Business School said while the people would benefit from abolishing tolls, the government might regret the move.
He said the government would have to consider how it could finance road maintenance and pay off the toll concessionaires.
He also told FMT the government would need a huge sum to buy out all the assets if the tolls were to be abolished.
He said a win-win situation benefiting the people and the concessionaires could be worked out, but not within the promised 100 days.
He echoed the recent remarks of Employees Provident Fund CEO Shahril Ridza Ridzuan that 100 days would not be enough to carry out the lengthy toll abolition process and that there were more important things to attend to which needed money.
The EPF has a 49% stake in toll highway operator PLUS Malaysia Bhd, while Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s unit UEM Group Bhd owns the remaining equity.
Other listed toll concessionaire companies include IJM Corp Bhd, WCE Holdings Bhd, Taliworks Corp Bhd, Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd, Gamuda Bhd, Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, Ekovest Bhd, Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Bhd (Litrak) and Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd.
Economist Barjoyai Bardai meanwhile said there were better ways to help the poor than abolishing tolls.
“Why should we abolish tolls? Abolishing tolls is like giving general subsidies on a daily basis.”
He suggested instead a method where a road user would be charged based on the size of the car or its engine capacity, or some other criteria.