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Claim that PLUS concession restructuring will hurt EPF contributors 'baseless': Pua

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 29): The claim that Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors will suffer a loss due to the government's move to restructure PLUS Malaysia Bhd's toll concession is baseless, said political secretary to the finance minister Tony Pua.

He said this and other allegations made by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak regarding the toll concession restructuring — which would see highway users enjoy an 18% toll rate reduction starting in February — showed that the former prime minister was “merajuk” (sulking).

“Clearly he is sulking because Pakatan Harapan (PH) has succeeded in finding a solution to the high (and rising) toll rates during the Barisan Nasional (BN) era whereas he had failed to do so.

"Based on the PH formula, highway users stand to enjoy a big discount, the government will make savings due to the PLUS debt write-off and not having to pay compensation for the discounted toll rates throughout the concession period,” Pua said in a statement yesterday.

He said since the PH government announced the toll rate reduction, Najib had criticised the measure non-stop although, through his Facebook posts, he cited the government's statement that highway users would save RM26 billion while the government would save RM42 billion for the remainder of the concession.

Unfortunately, Pua said, Najib still issued statements that EPF contributors and future highway users would bear a loss of RM68 billion during the remaining concession period, which was by the addition of RM26 billion and RM42 billion.

He said despite Najib being a former finance minister, his calculation was illogical and made no sense.

This was because the government's RM42 billion savings for the rest of the agreement period comprised the RM26 billion potential compensation for freezing toll rates till the end of the existing concession (with toll rates having to be raised by 5% every three years), the additional compensation of RM14 billion that the government must pay due to the 18% toll discount, and the oustanding debt of RM2 billion that the government owed to PLUS.

Pua, who is also the Damansara Member of Parliament, said the value of the PLUS equity interest held by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and EPF, as announced, would be retained and safeguarded through the issuance of bonds to shareholders.

Hence, the EPF's payment of dividends to Malaysian workers will not be affected.

“As has been confirmed by the Finance Ministry last week, Malaysians will enjoy an 18% toll discount starting Feb 1.

“This achievement is in line with PH's manifesto pledge, which is being successfully implemented without causing any loss to the government and Malaysian taxpayers. Instead, the savings made by the government will be ploughed back into welfare and development activities for the people nationwide,” he added.

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