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Following news that it could raise its toll rates next year by up to 5%, PLUS is neither refuting or confirming the claims. According to the Malay Mail, a spokesperson for the highway oncessionaire was quoted as saying that “all we can say is we will follow the agreement,” referring to Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin’s comments in Parliament yesterday.

Yesterday, Rosnah spoke of the highway concessionaire’s entitlement to raise its toll rates by as much as 5% next year, and then again every three years until December 31, 2038.

The recent widespread toll rate increases affected 18 highways across the nation, but PLUS had welcomingly announced then that none of its highways would be affected.

Now, with PLUS refusing to confirm or deny yesterday’s developments, it is naturally worrying that it could be on the verge of following the concessionaire’s agreement to increase toll rates in 2016.

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The Malay Mail report also highlighted that Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said last week that the government had allocated RM593.32 million to compensate highway concessionaires if they were not allowed to increase their rates.

The Works Minister said in Parliament that the department wasn’t responsible for the increase in toll rates, but also confirmed that there are eight highways due to receive hikes next year as per initial agreements.

The English daily provided a breakdown for the PLUS highways due to be compensated by next year, as follows:

  • North-South Expressway – RM214 million
  • Second Link Expressway – RM8.24 million
  • Elite Highway – RM79.44 million
  • Butterworth-Kulim Expressway – RM3.11 million
  • Serember-Port Dickson Highways – RM1.95 million

According to a Bernama report, PLUS earned an after-tax profit of RM8.4 million for the year ending December 31, 2014. Rosnah also mentioned that the total revenue for the company in the same year amounted to RM2.61 billion, based on an annual traffic volume of 506 million vehicles.

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“While revenue from PLUS’ toll collection every year is high, the expenses for managing the highway was also high with every ringgit collected for toll, the concessionaire had to repay the loan interest, upgrade and repair existing highways,” Rosnah explained.

In an attempt to ease concerns, Rosnah said at the Dewan Rakyat that the government had implemented various initiatives to reduce increases in highway toll rates and therefore lower overall burdens.

“The government has shut down eight toll plazas as well as reduced toll rates at several toll plazas nationwide, namely at PJS 2 Toll Plaza at the New Pantai Expressway, Sungai Nyior Toll Plaza at the Butterworth Outer Ring expressway and the Toll Plaza at the Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas),” she said.

She concluded by saying that “this initiative is in line with the manifesto of the Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election to reduce increases in highway toll rates in stages, which are often manipulated.”