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KUCHING, April 22: Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen said that he had instructed the ministry’s staff to immediately investigate why Bario folk are still paying RM65 per cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
He said the people of Bario should not be paying that amount because the government had awarded the transport-subsidy contracts to transporters to bring LPG, diesel, RON95 fuel, sugar, rice, flour and cooking oil to remote Sarawak starting this month.
Chong said this in a statement today in response to an article published in a local Chinese newspaper yesterday.
“Under the transport-subsidy contracts, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs will pay the appointed transporters the whole cost of transportation to supply the aforementioned seven essential items to the rural areas of Sarawak so that the prices of these items would be the same as those sold in urban centres, i.e. a 14kg LPG ‘tong’ (cylinder) should be sold at RM26.60.
“In 2019, a total of RM140 million is allocated for this transport subsidy programme, out of which about RM80 million is allocated for Sarawak,” he said.
Chong added that beginning this year, the ministry adopted the open tender system in the selection and appointment of the transporters. Previously, they were all appointed through direct negotiations.
“As such, there was a delay in the implementation of the said programme, which was supposed to commence in January,” he said.
The transporters were instead appointed and letters of award issued only on April 1.
“Therefore, yesterday’s report, if it were true, raised a serious issue of the appointed transporter for the Bario zone not carrying out their work despite having been duly appointed.
“We will not tolerate such lackadaisical manner of carrying out the contracts awarded by the ministry for the benefit of the rakyat,” he cautioned.
Chong said if the reports were found to be true and that the appointed transporter cannot furnish a valid reason for the non-compliance, stern action would be taken.
“It may include the replacement of the appointed transporter within the shortest possible time,” he said. — DayakDaily