Sarawak, Sabah should be exempted from removal of petrol subsidy, says Bandar Kuching rep

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Oct 1: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii will urge the federal cabinet to give special consideration for Sarawak and Sabah to be exempted from the implementation of the targeted petrol subsidy scheme.

“I will raise and push this issue in the upcoming Parliament sitting for the cabinet and (Finance) Ministry to consider giving exemption to Sarawak and Sabah; so that the current subsidy scheme for RON 95 at RM2.08 and diesel in the two states,” he pledged in a press statement today.

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and his deputy Chong Chieng Jen recently disclosed that a new targeted fuel subsidy scheme, under which price caps on RON95 petrol and diesel will be lifted, will be announced soon when the cabinet gives the green light.

Noting the heavy financial implications on the federal government as well as the risk of such a subsidy being abused, Dr Yii emphasised that Sarawak and Sabah should be given special consideration in view of the huge contributions from the two Borneo states to the federal coffers especially from oil and gas resources.

“This will send a strong message of appreciation for our contributions to the federal government as well as (become) a recognition of our special status in the federation,” he opined.

“Moreover, the proposed targeted scheme may not be so practical in the context of Sabah and Sarawak as there are many families here owning higher CC vehicles, not because they are rich, but out of necessity due to the road conditions and ground terrains of both territories.”

Dr Yii noted this issue has been raised before in his appeal to the federal government to give special consideration to Sarawak and Sabah due to the higher usage of vehicles with bigger engine capacities, especially in rural areas and also involving other rural transportation like long boats or express boats.

“This coming Parliamentary session, I will continue to push for this special consideration to be given on top of engaging with the Finance Ministry on the issue,” he assured.

“A proper mechanism must be in place to make sure that the intended parties benefit from the scheme rather than it being abused and used to profit those who can afford it.”

He thus urged the border patrol to be more vigilant to prevent subsidised petrol being smuggled out and sold to neighbouring countries or even commercial factories.

Dr Yii noted that the targeted RON95 petrol subsidy was a measure outlined under the 2019 Budget to reduce the cost of living for the bottom 40 per cent of households (B40), which is defined as households earning less than RM3,860 per month.

Other requirements include using vehicles and motorcycles with engine capacities below 1,500cc and 125cc respectively.

Those eligible would be able to enjoy subsidy of 30 sen per litre of RON95 petrol capped at 100 litres a month, while motorcycles at 12 sen per litre, but limited to two cars and two motorcycles per household.

He also noted that the federal government is currently subsidising the price of RON95 and diesel with RON95 capped at RM2.08 per litre regardless of the global petrol price, while the price of RON97 is floated weekly.

The government spent a total of RM4.89 billion in subsidies for RON95 and diesel between January and November 2018. This year, the federal government spent about RM50 million a week in subsidy from the period between Aug 23 to Sept 13.

Currently, the federal government is spending even more due to the higher prices of oil due to conflicts in the Middle East. — DayakDaily