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Govt wants solution to toll hike issue

KLANG, 17 April 2009: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has directed the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Department to find a comprehensive solution to address the perennial issue of having to raise toll rates every three years.

“I’ve directed the EPU to suggest to the government a comprehensive solution to tackle the toll hike issue which is a burden to the people and the government,” he told reporters after opening the 63rd annual general meeting of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

Asked whether the takeover of PLUS Expressways Bhd, the North-South Expressway concessionaire, by the government was one of the options to be considered, Najib said: “We are looking at all options but it’s premature for me to say now what the government is going to do.”

The prime minister said the government realised a comprehensive solution had to be found for the toll issue as “it is an issue the people dislike most.”

ACCCIM has proposed that the government take over PLUS expressways. The chambers had said with the government’s move to increase Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s investment fund by RM10 billion, RM5.4 billion could be used to buy over PLUS expressways.

It said the government could use the money to make a general offer to take over PLUS and write off PLUS’ loans within a six-year period and then reduce the toll for the people’s benefit.

Najib also said the government would re-examine periodically electricity tariff and price of liquefied natural gas with the hindsight that the government should balance the interests of all parties involved, be they energy users or providers.

“It has to be taken in a holistic manner, taking into consideration the position of Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the industry, our national capacity and oil and gas reserves that we have,” he said.

Asked when would be the next power tariff review, he said: “I don’t know yet but I will study the matter first.”

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the government would look into reviewing current policies that were not business-friendly and did not benefit the people.

“But we need time to study the policies to ensure whatever decision we make is well received not only by the business community but also the masses,” he added. — Bernama


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