Four ways to break the Touch 'n Go monopoly
SHAH ALAM - An expert in technology has suggested four ways that the government can implement to break the Touch 'n Go (TNG) monopoly.
The suggestions were to introduce competition, nationalise toll, regulate toll fees and encourage alternative modes of transport.
Selangor Technical Skills Development Centre (STDC) chief operating officer Associate Professor Ir Dr Muhidin Arifin said the government can introduce competition by allowing other companies to operate tolls or bidding rights to operate existing toll.
"This will create incentives for operators to improve their services and reduce costs to attract more customers.
"Secondly, the government can nationalise toll and operate it as part of the public service.
"This is to eliminate the company's main motive as solely making profit, and from a positive viewpoint it can reduce costs for consumers.
"However, it can lead to decrease in investment and maintenance because the public sector entities may not have the same financial means as private companies," he told Sinar Harian on Monday.
On Sunday, Sinar Harian reported that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not rule out the possibility of re-examining the TNG monopoly in the highway toll collection system in the country as there were many issues raised about the system.
Muhidin added that the government could also regulate toll fees to ensure that they were fair and affordable.
He said it might include setting price caps or implementing a pricing formula that considered factors such as inflation and operating costs.
"Next, the government could also encourage alternative modes of transport such as public transport or cycling, as ways to reduce dependency on toll and the monopolies to operate it," he said.
Muhidin also said the government should conduct the re-examination of monopoly of the highway toll collection system to find if the monopoly contributed to inefficiency and the system's high cost.
He explained that a monopoly in any industry could cause higher prices and reduce innovation since there were no competition to reduce costs and improve services.
However, Muhidin said any action to break the monopoly could impact the national economy, law and politics.
"Any decision should be made with careful consideration of all factors involved," he said.
He said even if breaking the monopoly and introducing more competition could result to lower prices and better services, it can also cause other implications.
"It can cause more complex problems because different operators may have different payment systems and rates.
"Therefore, any decision to re-examine the monopoly of the highway toll collection system in Malaysia should be done based on careful analysis of costs and benefits and taking into account the impact on consumers and the wider economy," he explained.