No go for tiered fuel pricing
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 24, 2010): It’s a no-go. Following protests from within and from the public, the government has shelved the proposed tiered fuel pricing scheme designed to ensure fuel subsidies go only to the target groups.
This means the subsidies running into at least RM5 billion a year will continue for now.
theSun learnt on Tuesday that the announcement was made earlier this week at a meeting between the Economic Planning Unit, members of the National Economic Council (NEC), the National Registration Department (NRD), representatives of oil companies, project developers ePetrol Holdings Sdn Bhd, media consultants Apco as well as Iris Technologies which inputs data into the Mykad chip.
The pricing system which was to be incorporated into the MyKad for petrol purchase was scheduled to take off on May 1 but its implementation was doomed from the start due to the logistical nightmare in getting over 15 million Mykad holders to queue up at NRD offices nationwide to update their Mykads with programme mechanism.
An official announcement is expected to be made by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob next week.
Ismail, whom it is learnt is among the harshest critics of the system, is said to have been at odds with many fellow members of the NEC as the implementation of the subsidy controls via Mykad is burdensome and impractical.
"Finally, the prime minister stepped in and scrapped the unpopular proposal based on feedback from the ground," said a source.
When contacted, Ismail who is on a private trip to Brisbane was non-committal over the scrapping of the proposal but conceded it was an unpopular move.
"I have been observing the discussions in various forums, including feedback via e-mails and on my FaceBook, and if the people are not happy, we should not force things down their throat.
"The prime minister is sensitive to the wishes and fears of the people and he takes the stand that if the rakyat does not want something, then the government should listen to the people," Ismail said, illustrating the scrapping of the mandatory inspection of old cars after protests from various consumer groups and individuals as another example.
He said he will meet with the NEC and other concerned members when he returns to Malaysia this weekend before making any announcement.
The question now is whether there is going to be a another scheme or whether fuel subsidies will be scrapped for good.
In an interview at his office last month, Ismail had said if subsidies were scrapped, the government had to explain to the people why and how the savings would be put to good use. - theSun