Chong: Transport subsidy for essential goods to rural areas delayed, not cancelled

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, March 12: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has not cancelled the transport subsidy for essential goods for the rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak.

Deputy Minister for Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen said in a statement today that the PH government had, in fact, allocated RM140 million to subsidise the transport of seven essential goods for the rural folks.

“The seven essential goods are diesel, petrol, LPG, sugar, rice, flour and cooking oil. Out of the RM140 million allocation, more than 90 per cent will be used in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

However, he explained that the programme, which was supposed to start in January, was delayed because the government had adjusted the procurement process from the previous direct-negotiation method to open tender method.

“It was discovered that some of the contract transporters appointed through the previous direct-negotiation process did not perform to expectations.

“Furthermore, the prices offered were also not competitive, resulting in the government paying more for less service,” he said.

In the open tender process carried out by the ministry, Chong disclosed that over 3,000 contract transporters submitted their tenders.

“The ministry is currently carrying out the selection process and appointment of the contract transporters will then be made in due course based on merits.

“We are at the final stage of the selection process. If everything goes smoothly, by April 1, 2019, the transport subsidy programme will be in full swing,” he assured.

Though the programme was implemented three months late, he emphasised that the ministry would make up for the late commencement with an increased supply of the essential goods for the rural people.

“For example, last year, the allocation was for the supply of only seven LPG tongs (tanks) per family per year. As a result of which, despite having the programme, many rural people were still compelled to buy LPG tongs at a no-transport-subsidy price.

“This year, we have allocated the transport subsidy for 12 LPG tongs per family per year. This is a huge increase,” he said.

Chong further elaborated that the introduction of the open tender system for the selection and appointment of contract transporters was to ensure that those who were appointed really did their job and that the rural people will truly benefit from the transport subsidy provided by the government.

“I apologise for the delay in the implementation of the said transport subsidy programme, but rest assured that in the long run, the introduction of such an open tender system is for the greater good and to the advantage of the recipients of the subsidy programme,” he stressed. — DayakDaily