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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21, 2015:

Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) announcement to eliminate tolls on the North–South Expressway (NSE) and on the first Penang Bridge if they governed the country is just a populist move in promising the people “the moon and stars”.

PAS research director Dr Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki said this announcement by DAP secretary- general Lim Guan Eng was not only populist but unrealistic in proposing road tax as an alternative source to fund highway maintenance.

Mohd Zuhdi stated that the proposition was populist because the Penang state government, had until today not been able to eliminate or reduce the existing tolls on highways in its territory.

“Although PH reasons that the Penang state government does not have jurisdiction over the highway concessions, if they really want to ease the burden on the people in Penang there are plenty of other ways it can be done.

“For example, the state can remove a number of provisions in the annual budget to ease the burden of the people of Penang who have to pay toll every day to go to work.

“The suggestion for an alternative source of funding for highway maintenance from road tax is not only realistic but unfair to the people, especially for low-income groups who rarely use the highways,” he said in a statement today.

The PAS Central Committee member added that currently there three states in Malaysia, namely Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak, that did not have highways but would be required to pay road tax under the Pakatan Harapan plan.

He said the cost of road maintenance was so high. So, if the funding collected from the road tax was not sufficient, he asked whether the tax rate would then be increased to sustain the expenditure.

Mohd Zuhdi said Malaysian highways were also being used by an increasing number of foreign drivers entering the country in private vehicles.

“Under this move by PH, will it mean that foreigners will be able to utilise the nation’s first-class amenities for free while the low-income citizens, who have never used these facilities, are burdened with its maintenance costs through compulsory road tax?

“PAS’ approach to the toll collection issue cannot be made ​​so simply.

“We need to consult with the grassroots through the Kongres Rakyat (People’s Congress) in order to achieve a win-win solution to the problem.”

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