Tuesday, September 3, 2013

‘Do not increase gas and electricity charges’

September 3, 2013
PKR also wants the Prime Minister to ask all his ministers to pay for their own petrol and diesel.
PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should declare that the government will not increase gas and electricity charges for the next one year, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli said today.
“To alleviate the anger of the rakyat, he should also order all his ministers and deputy ministers to pay for their own petrol and diesel that is now being paid for by the government,” he said at a press conference at the party headquarters today.
Rafizi also challenged Rembau MP and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin for a debate on the recent petrol price hike.
“I am sure he would be up for it, as long as he is not hindered by Umno,” Rafizi said.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak yesterday announced a 20 sen increase for RON95 petrol and diesel effective 12am today.
This is one of the measures to rationalise subsidies by the government, Najib, who is also Finance Minister, had said.
Currently the government subsidises 83 sen a litre for the RON95 and RM1 a litre for diesel.
The 20 sen subsidy reduction would result in the government still subsidising 63 sen for the RON95 and 80 sen for diesel per litre respectively.
Rafizi said Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, should come out with a comprehensive economic package instead of cutting subsidies which burden the rakyat.
He claimed economic facts illustrate that the decision to increase petrol and diesel prices would not solve the worsening economical problems plaguing the country.
Rafizi also stressed that the corporate subsidy should be slashed instead of the rakyat’s subsidy.
Najib had said that the increase in oil price will save the country’s yearly subsidy as much as RM3.3 billion starting 2014.
“At 83 sen a litre for the RON95 and RM1 a litre for diesel, the subsidy amount incurred is RM14.8 billion every year, that is, 59% from the total amount of subsidies spent by the government.
“A total amount of RM10 billion or 41% of gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidies is incurred by the government.
“This does not include the estimate for gas subsidy to independent power producers (IPP) at RM8 billion per annum.
“This means, the corporate subsidy given through gas subsidy to IPPs (estimated at around RM13 billion per annum) is almost the same as the petrol and diesel subsidies given to the rakyat,” Rafizi said.
He stressed that the corporate subsidy should be restructured as it is “unfair to punish the rakyat who are already facing money woes whereas the corporate sector is untouched.”
Rafizi said the lower and middle income groups were the most affected with the increase in petrol and diesel prices.
“The lower the household income, the higher the proportion in paying for petrol.
“We estimate that on average, a family which owns a car uses 313 litres of petrol or diesel every month. The 20 sen increase will make an additional expense of RM63 per month or RM752 per year,” he said.
Commenting on Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin who said that most villagers do not own cars, he said: “I do not know where he got his facts, because in Malaysia, at least three out of four families own a car.”
Rafizi added that the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) promised by Najib is inadequate for the petrol and diesel price hike.
“It is an irresponsible promise because the additional burden is incomparable to BR1M. The RM500 BR1M allocation is insufficient to that of the estimated additional expenses of RM752 per year,” he said.
To reduce the burden of the oil hike on the lower income group, Najib had said that he will increase the BR1M payments in the 2014 Budget to be tabled next month in Parliament.
“I doubt that he will increase BR1M to RM1,000. Also, not everyone is eligible for BR1M. The middle income group which is also affected by the oil price hike does not get any aid,” said Rafizi.
He added that the government’s dependency on giving out BR1M as efforts to “prolong their rule” will sidetrack the government’s focus from real economic issues such as giving quality education and lowering the cost of living.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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