Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak conceded that compensation had to be paid to Plus Malaysia Bhd for the removal of two toll booths in 2018 but said the money didn't go to private companies.
"Yes, we paid compensation to abolish the toll booths. The compensation went to the government (51 percent to Khazanah Nasional Bhd) and EPF (49 percent).
"It was not paid to private companies akin to what the Pakatan Harapan government is trying to do with four highways," wrote Najib on his Facebook page last night.
Najib said that in the case of the four highways, private companies were being offered 2.7 times their book value.
This was Najib's latest response in a tit-for-tat exchange with Damansara MP Tony Pua who is also the special officer to the Finance Minister.
Pua had criticised Najib for allegedly misleading the public on how the latter's administration managed to remove toll booths and made the roads free of charge.
Pua said that taxpayers throughout the country had to pay for compensation to the toll booth operators, while Harapan's plan to nationalise highways would levy a "congestion charge" to maintain the roads.
He was referring to the removal of the Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau toll booths in 2018, which saw Plus Malaysia Bhd's concession agreement being extended for 20 years and heavily subsidised.
On the congestion charge, Najib said the BN administration removed toll booths whenever a toll collection contract ends.
"Harapan, on the other hand, said will continue to collect toll through 'congestion charge' forever even though the contract ends.
"Harapan promised 'toll-free' but the people will get 'toll-forever'," said Najib.