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New transparency – all highway concessions should be made public and Samy Vellu must clarify whether decision has been taken to increase Penang Bridge toll for cars from RM7 to RM8.50 from October 1
(Parliament, Wednesday): The reason given by the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu that the government had already re-negotiated all concession agreements with the highway operators in 2003 to justify his earlier warning that motorists will have to pay more to use the highways as the government will no longer pay compensation to the concessionaires in lieu of toll increases is neither satisfactory nor acceptable.
This is because the so-called re-negotiations with the highway concessionaires in 2003 were conducted without accountability and transparency, as no report had ever been submitted to Parliament on the outcome of the re-negotiation of each individual highway concession.
There should in fact be a Parliamentary Select Committee on Works or Privatisation to scrutinize everyone of the highway concessions to ensure that public interests had been properly safeguarded.
Up to now, not a single one of the highway concessions had been submitted to Parliament or any Parliamentary Committee to allow Members of Parliament to discharge their oversight functions over the Works Ministry to justify the terms in the concessions, particularly with regard to the toll charges, increases and regularity of increases.
The very fact that the highway concessions had to be re-negotiated in 2003 is proof that the original negotiations had not been carried out in a responsible manner fully protective of the rights and interests of motorists and the general public. What surety is there that the 2003 re-negotiations had been carried out satisfactorily from the consumer point of view, if the whole matter is not subject to parliamentary oversight and review?
There should be a new transparency in the Works Ministry, starting by making all highway concessions public and Samy Vellu should be frank and truthful by clarifying whether a decision has already been taken on some toll increases, in particular the Penang Bridge toll, which is to increase from RM7 to RM8.50 for cars from October 1 this year.
Whatever the new terms that might have been reached in the 2003 re-negotiations of highway concessions, Samy Vellu should respect the right of motorists and consumers to be given prior notice of any new toll increase so that they can express their opposition and the existence of a mechanism for these objections to be given serious consideration.
If the APs list for 2004 and 2005 in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry could be made public, is there any reason why all the highway concessions in the Ministry of Works could not be made public?
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman