Govt Not Selling PLUS, Toll Rates to Reduce by 18%

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Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today confirmed that highway concessionaire PLUS Malaysia Berhad will not be sold.

He said the cabinet has studied all the proposals sent by the private sector as well as Khazanah Nasional Berhad, but Putrajaya has decided not to sell.

“The best way is not to sell PLUS to anyone but keep it with Khazanah.

“They will have to reduce the toll rates by 18%, but please remember that this 18% is fixed at today’s rate. In 30 years’ time it will be very, very low,” he said after launching Tenaga Nasional Berhad Balai Islam Complex.

It was reported yesterday that PLUS would remain under government control through Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Also, PLUS would undergo restructuring “with an aim to reduce toll rates for the benefit of the people”.

Khazanah, though UEM Group Berhad, has a 51% stake in PLUS while EPF, the remaining 49%.

Dr Mahathir said they are fixing it at the present rate and it will be a flat rate of 18%, while road users may grow, the earnings may not be as high as the original concession.

“The reduction will be straight away, commencing this year.

“It will not be increasing the rate for 30 years, means Malaysians will be paying very low rates.”

The four bids for PLUS that had been reported are by businessmen Halim Saad and Wong Gian Kui, Widad Business Group Sdn Bhd, Hong Kong-based Malaysian private equity firm RRJ Capital, and Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd.

In a press statement yesterday, Khazanah said it knew of “several unsolicited offers” for PLUS but the parties concerned had not directly engaged in talks with the sovereign wealth fund.

It said Putrajaya had been talking to PLUS shareholders “with the objective of reducing the burden of tolls on highway users, relieving the government of compensation pressures, as well as respecting the value of the highway concession for existing debt and equity holders”. – TMI