Selling off PLUS needs answers
By Hafidz Baharom
It comes as quite a surprise that the government is considering to sell off their stake in the North South Expressway toll concessionaire PLUS to Maju Holdings. Though to be fair, it was even more surprising that Utusan Malaysia is in support of the deal.
That is fishier than the cincalok sold in the markets of Terengganu and Kelantan.
The fishiest of all is that the government is actually considering the offer of actually selling off this stake to a company who will extend tolls for an additional 10 to 30 years for a cheaper toll rate.
If the government is looking for a good deal to manage the highways, then perhaps they should call in Tan Sri Halim Saad, who made a better offer in 2014 to buy PLUS and others for RM50 billion, forego government assistance, and offer discounted rates for everyone.
Is that not a better deal than the one offered by Maju Holdings, even if it will extend the concession period to 2038 as well?
Has anyone done a comparison?
But at the same time, you have to wonder – after promising to abolish all tolls altogether in their manifesto, make a move to further extend them?
We can’t be that bankrupt, considering we finally and truthfully increased our national debt to RM1.1 trillion, without any exaggeration from certain parties.
Furthermore, how will this help the government’s move to federalise the toll concessions to convert these into congestion charges, which is already being conceptualised and implemented in the Greater Klang Valley?
If it is about wanting to sell off the company to pare down government backed loans, then why sell the company which contributes to all our retirements through the Employee Provident Fund (EPF)?
Also, isn’t UEM part of our national investment fund, Khazanah Nasional?
According to the Ministry of Finance, the government related stakeholders in the company, being UEM and EPF, have rejected this deal. So why is it even making its way up to Cabinet?
Thus, the government needs to tell people why it wants to sell off PLUS to Maju Holdings.
In fact, perhaps government can also answer why of all toll concessions they purchased to put in place the Greater Klang Valley congestion charge, the Maju Expressway was not part of the purchase.
That is a very glaring question I’ve noticed nobody has asked thus far.
The Pakatan Harapan government should act in a way to fulfill their pledges, not move further away from them with this move to sell off PLUS.
And if it turns out that this sell off is some sort of political contra deal that happened before the last general election, then it goes to show that perhaps Pakatan Harapan has lost its credibility of representing the people at large.