Ramasamy: Targeted diesel subsidies might have been conceived in a haste; RM4b savings can just be a mirage

PRIME Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says that the targeted diesel subsidies are meant to ensure that right categories of Malaysians benefit from them.

Earlier, blanket diesel subsidies seem to abused by the rich and the powerful. Tales of the rich leveraging diesel subsidies for their luxury vehicles are too many.

Due to this malpractice, the government is said to have lost billions of taxpayers’ money. Moreover, the earlier PMs only talked about targeted diesel subsidies but lacked the political will to implement them.

Anwar thinks that the government cannot sit around and watch as the country bled with unscrupulous people taking advantage of subsidies that was meant for the B40 category.

It is not that subsidies are wrong but the manner of implementation seems to be the problem. As some have suggested. why not introduce the targeted diesel subsidies in a gradual manner by giving the time and space for the government to see their effects.

Non-business diesel-powered pick-up truck owners may have to bear the brunt of the latest 55.8% diesel price hike to RM3.35/litre(Image credit: Mekanika)

The all-of-sudden introduction of targeted diesel subsidies might pose problems that the government might not have anticipated.

But Anwar went on to say that the government will save of RM4 bil by implementing the targeted diesel subsidies that took effect past midnight on June 10.

The price for a litre of diesel has gone up 55.8% to the market rate of RM3.35 from the original price of RM2.15.

On top of these, there are categories of the working class who might be eligible for subsidies. I understand that those in need of subsidies will get RM200/month upon applying to the special Madani Fund.

More than one way to skin a cat

Anwar should also realise that saving money for the country comes from various ways, not just through targeted diesel subsidies alone.

Anwar knows how the country was siphoned off in billions through corruption, money laundering and other nefarious financial irregularities.

But yet the crackdown on corruption seems to be hampered by the cumbersome bureaucracy and the ineffective Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

I wonder whether there is political will or not on the part of the Madani government to eradicate corruption and the attendant evils.

If the MACC could rely on newspapers reports to investigate or not to investigate wrongdoings, then how can the public have confidence in this anti-graft agency.

Even as he is incapable to eradicate poverty at home, Anwar has been very generous in donating to various overseas causes, presumably to build up his own political traction.

Anwar or his ministers have yet to give the breakdown on the flow of foreign investments in the country. This is despite the boast that billions of ringgit have been flowing into the country.

The much talked about reforms which is an important agenda of the Pakatan Harapan ({PH)-led government is in tatters.

Anwar came to power on the promise of reforms but where are those reforms that he had promised? Recently, electoral watchdog BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) did not give a pass to Anwar on reforms but instead an “F”.

‘Optical illusion’

It is not that fuel subsidies – targeted or blanket – are not required in the country. The government must take the necessary measures to cushion the B40 category from the worst effects of the rise in the cost of living.

I have the feeling that the targeted diesel subsidies were introduced without much thought or understanding.

Whether the anticipated RM4 bil savings is a realistic figure or not remains to be seen. It might even be a mirage or an optical illusion.

If the government seriously wants to save money, then it should think of parallel measures such as the trimming of the bloated civil service, shutting down on agencies that serve no purpose or curbing the brain drain stemming from the notion of meritocracy that has been long avoided by the government.

Saving money for the country through the imposition of target diesel subsidies leaves much to be desired for. There is a need for a broader, comprehensive and systematic framework to address the financial dilemma faced by the government.

Short term measures stand the chance of being fizzled out without meeting the intended objectives. – June 11, 2024


Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the United Rights of Malaysian Party (Urimai) interim council.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE