Be transparent on B40 petrol subsidy in East Malaysia, urges Sarawak MP

Prices of RON95 petrol in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will remain at RM2.08.

KUCHING: A Sarawak MP has urged the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry (KPDNHEP) to be transparent about the petrol subsidy scheme for the B40 low-income group.

Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri said Sarawakians deserve to know how the studies were conducted and why it costs so much since they were excluded from the scheme.

“KPDNHEP must be transparent about the mechanism for the targeted subsidy scheme since it was reported that RM25 million was spent to develop the subsidy mechanism,” she told FMT.

She also questioned the ministry’s “silence” over the subsidies for diesel users in Sabah and Sarawak.

“KPDNHEP did not mention anything regarding the diesel price in Sabah and Sarawak,” she said.

In fact, she said the minister had mentioned the prices of RON95 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan would remain at RM2.08 because many of them were also using diesel.

“Will there be subsidies for diesel users? Why does the minister remain silent on the matter?”

She also expressed dismay at the recent news by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail that the government would retain the RON95 fuel price of RM2.08 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

“The targeted subsidy scheme would only benefit car and motorcycle owners based in the peninsula who are also recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH).

“If that is the argument, why is Sarawak not included?”

Nancy said Sarawak also had a significant number of BSH recipients and the rationale for excluding Sarawakians who are BSH recipients was unacceptable.

The federal government, in making such a policy, did not take into consideration their manifesto which regarded Sarawak as a poor state, she said.

“Prior to the 14th general election, they (the Pakatan Harapan government) regarded us as a poor state. If they meant it, then they should also include Sarawak in such a policy.”

She said the people had started to see inconsistencies in the federal government’s decision.

Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri says the government must be transparent about the mechanism for the targeted subsidy scheme since it was reported that RM25 million was spent to develop the subsidy mechanism.

“It is even worse since the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs is a Sarawak MP.

“Why is he not standing up for Sarawakians?”

Apart from his ministerial duties, he should also be taking care of Sarawakians’ welfare at the federal level, she added.

On Monday, Saifuddin had announced a petrol subsidy programme, which will come into effect on Jan 1, 2020, for the lower-income group in a bid to reduce the cost of living for the community.

He said vehicle owners in East Malaysia and Labuan would not be eligible for the petrol subsidy programme since the consumption there is lower than in the peninsula.

The price of RON95 petrol in Sabah and Sarawak would be capped at RM2.08 per litre, which is the subsidised rate.

Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Chong Chieng Jen said all car owners in Sarawak would still enjoy the current petrol subsidy.

“Once the targeted subsidy system starts in January next year, the RON95 price in Sarawak will be lower than that in Peninsular Malaysia. This is a special consideration for Sarawak and Sabah.

“For the first time, there will be something in Sarawak and Sabah which is cheaper than in the peninsula. This never happened during Barisan Nasional’s administration,” he said.

On diesel prices, Chong said a policy on this will be announced by the finance ministry in the near future.

It was estimated that a total of 2.9 million people are expected to benefit from the subsidy scheme, which will cost the government about RM65.4 million a month.