Take a relook at RM40 electricity rebate policy, Putrajaya urged

Datuk Idris Buang

KUCHING, Dec 29: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) publicity chief Datuk Idris Buang opined that the federal government should conduct an in-depth study on its RM40 electricity rebate policy.

He said there are many needy families who are not eKasih recipients.

“I fully support the call by our state minister (Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi) for the federal government to conduct an in-depth impact study on the federal government’s proposal to abolish the present RM20 electricity rebate and in place thereof introduce the RM40 electricity rebates meant only for eKasih recipients.

“The new policy move, which would only target eKasih recipients, does not augur well with the greater number of non-eKasih beneficiaries in Sarawak, who albeit not within the RM950 below blanket, may still be in the needy category,” said Idris in a press statement today.

The federal Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change recently announced this programme to replace the existing RM20 rebate initiative, but those eligible are confined to those with monthly household earnings of RM950 and below and registered under the federal eKasih programme.

But the state Ministry of Utilities felt that this change would impact consumers from the lower income groups who continue to need assistance but may not be registered under eKasih.

The state ministry, hence, suggested that a thorough study be undertaken by the relevant federal ministries to address this gap as this would impact the whole country, not just in Sarawak.

“Depending solely on the eKasih list may not be the accurate way of addressing the socio-economic needs of the vast majority of households whose members are trapped in various socio-economic pitfalls and challenges sprawling over the length and breadth of Sarawak.

“One household head may not fit in the eKasih criteria but has plenty of school-going children who would burn the midnight candle to plough the waves for their future. Others might need to run their cottage industry up till the wee hours to feed a big family,” said Idris, who is also Muara Tuang assemblyman.

The current rebate for electricity usage of RM20 and below was an initiative introduced in October 2008 by the then Federal Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water to subsidise electricity bills for lower income groups who typically consume less electricity to meet their basic necessities.

Since its introduction in 2008, the federal government has been subsidising the programme through this direct reimbursement mechanism.

For implementation in the state, Sarawak Energy waived payment for electricity bills of RM20 and below. This is subsequently submitted for reimbursement by Sarawak Energy to the federal government, now through the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change. — DayakDaily