Subang Jaya MP Wong Chen has suggested the government undertake the management buyouts of highway toll concessionaires in the next one or two years, once it has consolidated its financial position.

The move will allow roads and highways to be made free to benefit the people and prevent the concessionaires from being used as tools for profiteering, as reported by Bernama. Combined with a revision to toll charges expected to be made this week, the financial burden of the rakyat is expected to be lightened over the long run.

“Whether we can afford to buy up all these tolls later and make them free is an issue of fiscal prudence and what the economic priority should be,” noted Chen. He added that the imminent revision on toll rates is a start in lessening the amount motorists will need to pay.

Last week, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who is part of the five-member Council of Eminent Persons, said the group will meet with related agencies and shareholders to discuss toll restructuring. In its GE14 manifesto, Pakatan Harapan promised a gradual abolishment of tolls over the next five years.

However, such a move won’t be an easy one as RM53 billion in bonds and Sukuk issued by toll concessionaires will be affected if the government abolishes tolls. This is according to RAM Ratings Services, one of the largest credit rating agencies in Malaysia, in a report by The Star.

Relating to the matter, Tun Daim Zainuddin, another member of the Council of Eminent Persons, said in a report by The Edge that shareholders of toll concessionaires have “plenty of cash” to cushion the impact from a reduction or elimination of tolls.