KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the decision to keep PLUS Malaysia Bhd, the country’s biggest highway concessionaire, under Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), stating that it was the “only way to settle the problem”.
He said the Cabinet studied all the proposals made by different bidders.
“I didn’t decide on anything.
“I did see the proposal by Abu Sahid Mohamed (of Maju Holdings).
“We studied all the proposals made by different bidders,” he told reporters after an event today.
The best decision was to allow the highway to remain with the present owners — Khazanah and EPF, he added.
Abu Sahid, is the executive chairman of Maju Holdings, which was one of the companies bidding for PLUS Malaysia Bhd.
He had launched a scathing attack on Khazanah Nasional managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, hours after the government announced its decision not to sell PLUS.
He called the decision “stupid”, and questioned why it was not conveyed to him despite his company being invited to make an offer.
Sahid had further claimed that the government’s decision to keep PLUS was “stupid”.
He also said Khazanah was “stealing money”, stating that his company’s cost of resurfacing highways was only one-third of Khazanah’s cost.
“They are paying RM58 per square metre for resurfacing the road. I am paying RM18.”
Khazanah owns 51% through UEM Group while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) owns 49%.
The government has agreed to extend PLUS’ concession period by another 20 years, from 2038 to 2058. There will be no toll hikes until 2058.
Mahathir said he believed PLUS would be able to pay off its debts with the extension of the concession.
The Prime Minister’s Office earlier announced that the toll charges for private vehicle users plying PLUS-operated highways will be reduced by 18% effective Feb 1.