Petrol dealers ‘in the dark’ over subsidy system

PETALING JAYA: With just two more weeks before a targeted fuel subsidy system is slated to begin, petrol dealers complain that they are in the dark and no one has briefed them on how the system will work.

Khairul Annuar Abdul Aziz, president of the Petrol Dealers’ Association Malaysia, said dealers do not have any details on the system, in which lower-income motorists will receive a subsidy on the cost of petrol.

“We are in the dark. We do not know how it will be implemented and neither has anyone briefed us. We are nervous because some drivers may be eligible and some may not be for the subsidy,” he told FMT.

He said motorists may take out their fury on dealers if there were hiccups in the system.

In October 2018 the federal government announced that a subsidy of 30 sen per litre for RON95 petrol would be provided to those in the B40 group (the lower income group that forms the bottom 40% of society), who owned cars and motorcycles with engine capacities of up to 1,500cc and 125cc respectively.

The targeted subsidy was proposed in order to cut costs. Last year, the federal government paid out RM4.9 billion on fuel subsidies for RON95 petrol from January to November. A sum of RM2 billion has been allocated for the new system, scheduled to begin on July 1.

Khairul Anwar, describing the system as “a mega-scale project”, said dealers have not heard of any pilot projects or a trial run being carried out before it was put into practice.

He said petrol dealers would prefer a system in which the subsidy is paid directly into users’ bank accounts, instead of going through petrol pump operators. He said the dealers did not know how long the government would take to reimburse them if they were to bear the cost of the subsidy first.

Collecting data for direct payment to B40 car and motorcycle users

On June 11, with just three weeks left, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said the federal government was still collecting data for the subsidy payment scheme.

Domestic trade minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had said in May that the implementation of fuel subsidy could be introduced in July as the government is in the final stages of identifying the viable mechanism.

Saifuddin had said a data system was being developed, separate from Bantuan Sara Hidup’s data on beneficiaries.

The government had earlier said it proposed to use a discount card or coupon. However, the minister later told the Dewan Rakyat that a direct payment to the recipients’ bank accounts would be more practical.

He said the BSH database showed that 90% of the B40 group eligible for the subsidy had personal bank accounts. As of April, there were 4.1 million BSH beneficiaries.