One of the big salient points of Budget 2019 was the freezing of toll price hikes on all inter-city highways across the whole of next year. According to finance minister Lim Guan Eng, who tabled the budget in the Dewan Rakyat last week, this exercise would cost the government around RM700 million.

This pretty much puts paid to the proposed abolishment of all tolls, part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s manifesto for the 14th general elections. Both prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and works minister Baru Bian said that this was not feasible with respect to the country’s financial health, although Bian added that the government was looking at other ways to ease the burden on people’s wallets.

Malaysia will also abolish toll collection for motorcycles on both Penang bridges as well as the Second Link to Singapore from January 1, at an estimated price of RM20 million. Another RM10 million will be allocated to upgrade the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) and the Malaysia Biometric Identification of Motorbikers (MBIKE) at both the Johor causeway and the Second Link to ease congestion issues.

Meanwhile, construction will continue on the Pan Borneo Highway, although the project will be subjected to a cost rationalisation exercise. Bian had already announced last month that the Sabah portion of the highway has been given the green light by the federal government to continue, amid concerns of the latter’s stand regarding the project, so this news effectively puts those concerns to bed.