Ever since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over as the country’s new government after the events of GE14, one of PH’s promises stated in their manifesto excited many Malaysians. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated right before the election that if they were elected into power, the PH government would slowly abolish tolls across the country in stages.
However, it looks like this plan might not come to fruition after the prime minister recently addressed this during the Asean Leader’s Gathering in Bali yesterday (11th October). He was quoted by Free Malaysia Today as saying,
“We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government, and this manifesto is a big burden.”
“At that time, I was against it. The only way to have freeways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol.”
Tun Dr Mahathir used England as an example of this, as while there are no tolls on their roads, they impose heavy taxes on petrol, which goes to road maintenance.
He then pointed out that it would also be difficult to maintain or even build new roads if tolls were completely done away with, saying,
“You tell the private sector to do the roads. They want to make money, but if you don’t have toll, how can you make money?”
The prime minister added that placing petroleum taxes would not be fair, as people who do not use the highway will also have to pay. Moreover, as petrol prices increase, so does the petrol tax.
“If you get the money out of the sale of petroleum, people who do not use the highway also have to pay. Here, (highway) users pay. This is our belief. The users pay. Those people who are not using (the roads), why should they pay?”
Tun Dr Mahathir’s statement comes just a week after Works Minister Baru Bian stated that the abolition of tolls could be finalised within two to three months and that the ministry is currently negotiating with stakeholders to find the best outcome, saying,
“The government will continue efforts to fulfil its promises in the PH manifesto, including the abolition of highway tolls, but we admit that it is not easy to implement due to the pressures on the government’s finances.”
According to Promise 6 in PH’s manifesto, which was released in the run-up to GE14, the coalition promised that if they were to come into power, they would review all highway concession agreements and renegotiate to take over them and eventually abolish all tolls while also providing sufficient compensation for the affected companies.
More recently, the prime minister stated that PH’s manifesto will need to be reviewed as some of its promises may cause great losses if implemented.
What are your thoughts on this latest development? Let us know in the comments below!
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