Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak revealed that the Malaysian government has given highway concessionaires a total of RM1.51 billion in soft loans through years 2000 and 2014.

According to The Sun Daily, the PM said that the precise figure was RM1,505,812,592. “Usually, the government soft loans were given to highway projects that have high social impact and competitive value to finance part of the capital expenditure,” Najib said, keeping his response brief.

His comments were prompted by member of parliament Rafizi Ramli, who asked Najib to reveal the government’s full financial assistance to highway concessionaires within the mentioned time. The topic is a hot one at the moment, with Putrajaya still in discussions as to whether it should allow a toll rate hike again this year.

It was recently reported that if toll rates are not increased in 2016, the government would have to compensate highway concessionaires with up to RM1 billion in exchange. Works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof confirmed the news last week.

“They have to maintain and service the road, they also have to upgrade the staff in their departments,” Fadillah explained. “Wait for the legislation, we are still negotiating the matter. We have to balance all aspects and that depends on the government’s income,” he said.