Why has the toll renegotiation degenerated from asking the concessionaires to charge lower tolls to taking over these concession companies?
Taking over toll companies will take time. I am sure that renegotiating with concessionaires to come up with more reasonable toll rates is much faster and easier.
Did Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto promise lower toll rates or the takeover of toll companies? Was there an attempt to skew the whole argument from lower tolls to taking over toll companies?
It has been nearly a year since PH took control of the federal government. As far as I know, there has been no serious attempt to tackle the toll issue except “studies” and more “studies”. Even a few days ago, the works minister was still talking about a study which may only be completed in another few months.
Before the 14th general election, there were tonnes of analyses done on the excesses of toll concessions. Surely those excesses can be trimmed by asking the concessionaires to lower the toll rates across the board.
Toll concessions, like IPPs at one time, are a risk-free business. Risk-free businesses are only entitled to risk-free returns, which the government must seriously take into consideration.
Even if the federal government intends to take over these concessions, it must first cut the excesses. Otherwise the valuation of these companies would be much higher than they deserve.
The government must renegotiate the toll rates with all toll concessionaires. The government must deliver lower rates to the people across the board, not at 3am or only during a two-day festive occasion.
If we had begun negotiations earnestly and immediately after the general election, I am sure we would have got some results by now.
It is not cool to be told after nine months that the government is contemplating taking over toll companies. If we take 10 years to take over water concessions, will we need 20 years to take over toll concessions?
I am just an ordinary citizen writing based on imperfect or incomplete information. But policies and decisions must make sense, not nonsense.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.