Saturday, June 07, 2008

For Whom the Tolls Bell - Both Government and Opposition

Dear LK

I would like to give my 2 thoughts about what is currently happening in the country with regards to the huge oil price hike. Whilst I agree entirely with the proposed freeing up of the fuel price in accordance with market prices, the mechanism or method by which subsidy withdrawal is implemented leaves a lot to be desired. Why? Because given the whole bunch of Ivy Leaguers (so-called) employed or giving advise to the Government, nothing is given back to the rakyat. The only thing that the Prime Minister has said is that people must change their lifestyle and anybody who raise their price will be hauled. Come on!

So, what would I do if I was the policy maker? Lots of things can be done. Why not if the Government buys back a number of the tolled highways and bi-ways? Expensive? Not that expensive when you consider that the Government would not have to fork out RM40-50 billion if the oil prices were not subsidised. By the way, why don't the Government keep on charging toll? This will keep people employed and at the same time allow for some retention of money to maintain the roads. But keep it at nominal levels. KESAS for example charges RM2.20 per toll for 2 tolls if you are travelling from Bukit Jalil to Subang Jaya. Once the Government acquires it, lower it to RM1 per toll. So, if a guy commutes daily between Bukit Jalil and Subang Jaya, rather than spend RM8.80, he only spends RM4, and saves RM4. He travels faster and also saves on fuel consumption, which in turn spins off a number of other benefits. If I was to explain all, there are too many things to detail. But I believe given that you are a lawyer from the kampung, you know what I mean.

As a lawyer, you would probably ask me what about the contractual obligations that the Government owes to the concessionaires. Put in simple terms, why don't the Government offer to buy off at a good valuation with a certain premium. Say if the Government can offer a concessionaire RM2 billion cash, who in their right mind would not accept the offer? Financially, it would be better off for anybody to get RM2 b cash immediately rather than wait over 10-15 years to get RM3 b based on NPV. Anyway, the job of concessionaires should not be about collecting toll and collect compensation. They should be out there in the global market place building highways, as a global player.

Some would say what I have written are based on simple logic/thinking. I believe that if one thinks simply one would understand things better. The rich are the ones who think simply, not in complicated manners. Anyway, give it some thought and I think many would realise the many things that can be done.

By the way, I would just like to end my piece to you by saying that the above is not only said by the Government but also by the Opposition. So what gives? They're all the same.

Simple Minds

An E-Mail from Walk Long

No comments: