Toll tales. Either Nor Mohamed Yakcop has discussed the proposal by Asas Serba with Najib, or he thinks he is still the Finance Minister II and therefore can decide without asking what the PM thinks or if the views of the Cabinet on Asas Serba's proposal ought to be sought. [Nor was 2nd Finance Minister under Pak Lah; the post went to Husni after Najib became PM and took the finance portfolio as well].
Whichever way you think, what's certain is this man formerly nicknamed "Top Cat" sounded like he knew exactly what he was talking about yesterday.
“If anyone has a plan to buy (the tolled roads), good luck but we have no plans to sell." - Top Cat
According to the Star's report here, Nor Mohamed was responding to questions regarding a report that said private entity Asas Serba Sdn Bhd was to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on its proposal to consolidate the management and operations of all highway concessionaire companies in the country, including PLUS Expressways Bhd and Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Bhd, in a deal estimated at RM50bil. It is reported that Asas Serba would be able to reduce toll charges by some 20% after the consolidation while lessening the Government’s subsidies by some RM114 bil but to do so, it might need to seek a longer concession period.
According to the Business Times/NST, about a month ago, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said state investment agency Khazanah Nasional Bhd has no plan to sell PLUS. Recent reports quoting Asas Serba's allies, however, claimed that the Prime Minister was now interested to listen to the firm's proposal, and that a briefing was supposed to have been held last week. Khazanah directly and indirectly holds 64 per cent of PLUS. The EPU is responsible for carrying out a study for the government to take over some of the busier highways including PLUS to ease the burden of toll users. It further reported that Asas Serba had in May this year proposed to the Works Ministry to acquire all 22 highway concessionaire companies for RM50 billion. The company is manned by four businessmen, two of whom are former senior executives of the former Renong conglomerate.
We are paying too much toll, especially those of us who commute daily on intra-urban expressways. We all want something to be done by the government to reduce our burden. But I happen to think that making us pay less but for a longer period just won't cut it. If all Asas Serba is thinking is that, then it will not go down well with most.
BUT is that what Asas Serba's proposal is about?
Has the proposal gone to the PM and the Cabinet? (And if not, why did NMY pre-empt them?).
Does NMY has a better idea?
Andif it's not the PM, shouldn't the official take on such a plan come from the 2nd Finance Minister?