The government has not yet decided on the method for reducing the toll, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
Commenting on former Council of Eminent Persons chairperson Daim Zainuddin’s statement that the government is capable of cutting toll rates by up to 25 percent, Mahathir said there were several suggestions from the private sector to take over the highway concessions but the possible toll rate cut was not up to 25 percent.
"We are now facing problems. We promised to abolish tolls, but if tolls are abolished, the government’s burden will increase tremendously.
"For example if we abolish the North-South Highway (Plus) toll, the government has to buy over the highway for RM30 billion. Better to use that money to pay debts, can reduce our burden a bit,” he told a media conference after chairing the National Finance Council meeting in Putrajaya.
While agreeing with Daim’s view that the people’s support for the Pakatan Harapan government would increase if toll rates are reduced, Mahathir (photo) said: "The people will be relieved for not having to pay the toll but the government will not feel so because toll has to be paid by the government.”
On the Malaysian Bumiputera Contractors Association’s call for the government to give bumiputera contractors at least 20 percent of public works in the East Coast Rail Link (ERCL) project, the prime minister said the government would study the matter.
"We have decided that local contractors be given jobs but whether they are bumiputera or non-bumiputera has not been decided,” he said.
Asked on Hari Raya Aidilfitri incentives for Felda settlers, Mahathir said this question should be directed to Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali
"We did not discuss Felda (today) but we have discussed Felda many times at other forums and we have other proposals to improve the situation in Felda," he said.
The Felda NGO Consensus Council (Majlis Permuafakatan NGO Felda) recently asked the government to consider giving incentives or duit raya to the 112,635 Felda settlers throughout the country as has been done since 2011.