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What! China's road tolls lost how much last year?

China's toll roads, which cover two-thirds of the highway network, have reported losses totalling a staggering $25 billion US dollars. This year's losses, which are more than double the $10 billion US recorded last year, have led to a few raised eyebrows in the media.

It's nothing to debate the road network in China. Fingers are frequently pointed at road tolls. Driver's berate the costs. Inter-city journey's can cost up to $100 dollars in road tolls alone.

Tolls however, have opened up China. According to official sources there are over 150,000km of highway, including 100,000km of road tolls. But roads aren't cheap - and nor is finance - say the government.

The Ministry of Transport explains away the losses as a result of a rise in repayment loans. But the media are asking whether there may be another reason. Corruption and official manipulation of the figures could lie behind the losses according to an increasing critical media.

They are asking whether toll operators, which are often companies owned by local government, are making up the losses so they can continue to collect fees even after construction costs have been met.

There are “suspicions that losses are being exaggerated in order to collect fees for longer," read an opinion piece in Yangste Evening Post. It continued by wondering why companies with such big losses have not been suspended from operating on the stock market. "Many operators have continued to collect tolls even long after recovering their costs and making profits," reported the China daily last year. And it's not just corruption and bottomless pits of cash that are causing concern for citizens in China. 08/07/2015  |  Jonathan Green


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