Monday, November 26, 2007

Shahrir: Government must take back highways



The Star

JOHOR BARU: The Government takeover of highway management from Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Bhd (PLUS) is crucial in solving the problem of increase in toll rates, said Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad.

Shahrir said the takeover would mark the end of the expressway's privatisation and turn it into a public asset.

“The takeover would mean the end of the concession period.

“The toll charges could be used for maintenance works and funds saved from ending the concession could be used to fill public needs,” said Shahrir after launching a blood donation campaign in Plaza Pelangi here yesterday.

Shahrir, who is Public Accounts Committee chairman, said that among the problems caused by privatisation was a short payback period of bank loans that resulted the concessionaire seeking higher rates which would eventually lead to the public being burdened.

“Private companies have up to seven years to pay the loans but government entity has up to 20 years.

Shahrir also called for the matter of subsidy to be discussed in a wider context.

“The whole matter should be reviewed and only certain areas should be given subsidy.

“However, any action must not burden or disrupt any aid to the public,” he said.

On the general election, Shahrir said Johor Baru Umno was always ready.

“We always work as if the election is tomorrow.

“However, I hope it will not be too soon because I still have so much to do with the committee and my seat is still not warm yet,” he said.

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