(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The latest February issue of the monthly publication of Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Berhad (Plus), "Rangkaian Plus", claims that Plus will only make profits from the North-South Expressway toll concession from 2,012.
Malaysians are not impressed by these hardship stories of Plus, as everybody knows that Plus is the cash cow of conglomerate Renong Bhd. In fact, without the North-South Expressway concession, Renong would probably have gone bankrupt already. As it is, Plus will anchor the RM11.3 billion rescue plan to restructure debt-ridden Renong and its associates.
Plus has been collecting over RM1 billion in toll payments a year.
It claims that for every ringgit collected last year, 75 sen went to repay
and 25 sen to maintain the highways.
It said: "A big chunk of Plus' income goes to repay its bank loan which is expected to be settled only in 2006."
It claims that from 2006 onwards, Plus would need to repay its RM3.5 billion government loan. The company would only be making profits from 2012 --- 24 years after it had started its project.
I am not convinced that Plus is justified in increasing its toll rate by 0.75 sen per kilometre, bringing the toll rate to 11.24 sen per kilometre, from March 1.
I have therefore invited the Plus Chairman and Managing Director to the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally organised by the Coalition Against Toll (CAT) at Bukit Jalil Stadium next Friday on February 26 to justify another toll rate increase on March 1.
We do not want the PLUS Chairman and Managing Director just to give bare figures, claiming that Plus has been operating the North-South Expressway concession at a loss of RM7.4 billion since 1989 on the ground that toll collection for the 1989-1998 period was RM4.7 billion and another RM314.5 million from other sources while its expenditures for the period was RM12.5 billion.
There should be full accountability and transparency as to how Plus could have spent RM12.5 billion - with a full audit as to the propriety of the expenditures.