PETALING JAYA: Motorists could save RM180 million per annum when the government acquires four highway concessionaires by the end of this year but they will still pay a congestion charge, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.
He said motorists using these highways will come under the new congestion charge system previously announced.
“This congestion charge model follows a variable pricing structure which depends on the time of the day.
“In principle, the government will give discounts of up to 30% for hours outside of peak periods and free travel during off-peak periods.
“In addition, the maximum congestion charge will be capped at the current toll rate in order to not cause further burden to the commuters.
“The final structure of the congestion charge will be studied and refined in further detail before being implemented on Jan 1, 2020,” Lim said in a statement.
Lim said the acquisition of four highways will directly save taxpayers as the government will not have to pay compensation of RM5.3 billion to toll concessionaires in order to freeze toll rate hikes until the end of their respective concession periods.
“The government will no longer be required to pay such compensation after acquiring these four highways.”
On Feb 23, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced the proposed acquisition of four highway concessions in which Gamuda Berhad has a significant stake.
The four highways are Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (SPRINT), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas) and SMART Tunnel (SMART).
Lim said as a result of negotiations with Gamuda, his ministry had formally offered letters to the four concessionaires on June 21 with the enterprise value offer of RM2,470 million for LDP; RM1,984 million for SPRINT; RM1,377 million for Kesas; and RM369 million for SMART.
The completion of this RM6.2 billion offer for the four highways is subject to due diligence, the requisite approval by shareholders and creditors for each concessionaire and the final approval by the Cabinet.
If the acquisition process of these highways is successful, the government will acquire the highway concessionaires on Dec 31 through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), wholly-owned by the Minister of Finance (Incorporated), Lim added.
“The government has negotiated earnestly with the concessionaires to make a fair acquisition offer that maximises the returns for the people and does not result in any financial burden for the government.”
Lim said the SPV will finance the RM6.2 billion offer by way of a bond issuance.
“The collection of congestion charge will be sufficient to service the debt as well as to finance the operation and maintenance cost of the highways, without requiring an additional budget allocation from the finance ministry.
“In other words, the acquisition cost will be self-financing through the collection of the congestion charge and will not require any government expenditure.”
Lim said if this acquisition model is successful, then the government will apply the same model to acquire the concessions of other tolled highways in the future, including inter-city highways.