KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 16): The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) supports the Cabinet's decision to not sell Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (PLUS) Malaysia Bhd.
In a statement today, the think tank said it believes that the announcement will put a stop to speculations surrounding the country's biggest highway concessionaire.
"...it is imperative on the part of the government as the guardian of national assets to produce and communicate a comprehensive divestment policy framework in order to encourage policy clarity and certainty," it added.
The framework should fully consider the implications of government-linked company (GLC) reforms, which may include asset sales, to the broader socio-economic dynamics, it added.
Its chief executive officer Ali Salman said a transparent divestment process should be in place before the government engages in privatisation.
IDEAS noted that speculations about the sale of national assets, including PLUS, that emerged after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad raised the issue, have given rise to concerns about transparency and governance which does not inspire public confidence.
This could be due to the absence of a clearly laid out framework for the reform of GLCs, which should also cover divestment, it added.
The framework "should be given an added emphasis and urgency" as the 12th Malaysia Plan, which covers the years 2021 to 2025, will be tabled by mid-year.
"So, the roles of GLCs as well as statutory bodies have to be revisited and made relevant to better address socio-economic challenges of the future," IDEAS said.
According to Ali, the think tank will hold a series of consultative roundtable meetings with relevant stakeholders to contribute towards policy recommendations on reforming GLCs.
Earlier today, Dr Mahathir had announced that the Cabinet had decided PLUS will remain in the ownership of Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), but the concessionaire would have to cut toll rates by 18%.
"They will have to reduce the toll rates by 18% but please remember that this 18% is fixed at today's rates, which means that in 30 years' time, the toll rates will be very, very low," he told reporters.
Khazanah holds a 51% stake in PLUS while EPF owns the remaining 49%.
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