Thursday, November 22, 2007

Govt must pay RM380mil if toll not raised

The Government will have to fork out a total of RM380mil to compensate toll concessionaire companies next year if the Cabinet decides not to increase toll rates.

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said although the Cabinet had not decided on the issue, the ministry had worked out the amount of compensation to toll concessionaire companies.

Except for the Penang Bridge where the toll rate is scheduled to be revised on Oct 1, seven expressway operators are due to review their rates on Jan 1.

The Government would have to compensate Ampang-Ulu Kelang Elevated Highways RM28mil, North-South Expressway (central region) RM18mil, Seremban-Port Dickson RM178mil, Kulim-Butterworth Expressway RM10mil, Second Link to Singapore RM6mil, Sprint Highway RM34mil, NKVE RM9mil and Penang Bridge RM22mil, he said.

The Government, having increased toll charges of the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) from RM1 to RM1.60 instead of RM2.10, would have to pay Litrak, the operator of LDP, RM75mil.

Samy Vellu said this in his reply to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) while answering queries at the committee stage of the Supply Bill 2008.

He added that the Government was still finding ways to reduce the toll charges.

Replying to Salahuddin Ayob (PAS-Kubang Kerian), Samy Vellu said the cost to build the palace complex to replace Istana Negara was RM450mil with another RM200mil to build the quarters, security features, multi-level underground car park and others.

He said the cost of the new palace complex was not RM1bil as stated by Salahuddin.

“The Government has decided that the cost to build the new palace complex be capped at RM650mil and it cannot be more than that,” he added.

549 probed under ISA since 2005

THE Anti-Corruption Agency investigated 549 people from 2005 to September this year, with 269 cases still pending.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Internal Security Minister, said no ACA personnel was investigated during the same period.

Seventy-four people have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the detention camp in Kamunting, Perak, until Aug 29.

The detainees were held for offences such as involvement in Jemaah Islamiah and Daulah Islamiah, minting of counterfeit RM1 coins, using fake identities and fake China passports and smuggling of illegal foreign workers.

Other cases involved the Southern Thailand Military Movement and Southern Thailand Separatists Movement.

Abdullah said the Government was aware of the detainees’ welfare and allowed them to apply for financial assistance.

More than 3.1 million spend RM15mil on smokes every day

MORE than 3.1million smokers nationwide are spending a whopping RM15mil daily on cigarettes, reported China Press.

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the figure showed a worrying trend, adding that smokers should quit the habit and spend the money on something beneficial instead.

According to a report by the ministry's Disease Control Unit, there was an upward trend in the number of young smokers.

Lee said there was one female smoker in every 33 who lighted up nationwide. Currently, the number of female smokers in the country stands at 274,000.

He said 1.1 million smokers were aged between 25 and 34 while 318,000 were between 55 and 64, adding that many smokers were parents. “If parents cannot lead by example, their children might follow their footsteps and pick up the habit,” he said.

The ministry had stepped up anti-smoking campaigns, as smoking was a public health problem.

Without such campaigns, the number of smokers was expected to soar to 3.8 million by 2015. It will reach the four million mark by 2020.

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