QUESTION TIME | Although tolls are not going to be abolished any time soon, if ever, the first steps taken by the Finance Ministry - buying urban toll roads associated with Gamuda - seem pretty good, going by the figures and assurances given by the minister.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng confirmed over the weekend that the purchase price was RM6.2 billion, including debt, for four toll roads. The equity portion alone costs RM4.5 billion.
Three things that Lim revealed would justify the acquisition. They are:
The bond issue to finance the acquisitions and interest charges will be serviced from the collection of tolls, with no additional allocation from the government’s budget. The collection will also be enough for maintenance and operation of the toll roads.
There will be no need of the government to pay up to RM5.3 billion in compensation for tolls to be kept flat, freeing up that amount of money for other expenditure.
Under a new system of “congestion charges”, where the rates are the same as now during peak periods and discounted or no tolls during other periods, commuters will save RM180 million a year...