Malaysiakini News

Don't exaggerate on RM400b for toll abolition, MCA tells Baru

Published:  |  Modified:

MCA wants Works Minister Baru Bian to explain how his ministry derived the "overstated amount" of RM400 billion, which he said it would cost the government to abolish tolls as per Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto.

In a statement, Wanita MCA vice-chairperson Ong Chong Swen accused the minister of exaggerating the amount, stating the value was significantly higher than what had been cited by DAP MP Tony Pua back in 2009.

"In fact, Tony Pua had, in 2009, claimed that a study done by DAP found that the acquisition of toll concessionaires would require RM25 billion. He even urged the then BN government to acquire the concessionaires to benefit road users.

"The cost of acquiring toll concessionaires should not balloon from RM25 billion to RM400 billion after nine years.

Error with the decimal points?

"Works Minister Baru Bian must explain to the people the calculation method used to arrive at RM400 billion. Does it include the hidden cost of compensating toll concessionaires for loss of revenue? Or could it be an error with the decimal points, and the real figure should be RM40 billion?" she said.

She was referring to the statement made by Baru in Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the new government would have to hold off on its election pledge of abolishing tolls until the country was in a better fiscal state.

To a question by BN's Jelebu MP Jalaluddin Alias, Baru said Harapan had not realised the true state of the country's finances when it made the promise prior to the 14th general election.

Ong, meanwhile, added that if the figure quoted by the minister was indeed accurate, then Baru should question Pua on his calculations at the time.

"Special officer to the Finance Ministry Tony Pua has a professional economic background, and he will certainly help the government to reduce the cost of abolishing tolls to RM25 billion or a reasonable price."

Back in 2009, Pua had questioned the then BN-government's claim that it would exceed RM230 billion to buy back 26 highway concessions.

The current Damansara MP had claimed the "real cost" of taking over the highways would only be around RM25 billion, based on several factors including declassified highway concession contracts and the need to only re-acquire highways making "astronomical profits".


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