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PM thanks Pas for acknowledging need for targeted diesel subsidies

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 07:54 PM

BAGAN SERAI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has expressed his gratitude to Pas for acknowledging the need for targeted diesel subsidies.

Anwar today said former prime ministers had agreed that targeted subsidies were essential to prevent significant financial leakages.

He said the targeted diesel subsidies being implemented now were not perfect, but added that improvements would be made.

"I find it odd if the subsidy issue is used as a political issue because all political parties agree about it, and I thank the Pas secretary-general (Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan) for issuing a statement showing his understanding.

"He even once mentioned in Parliament about the previous government's proposal to increase diesel prices.

"However, the present government has increased it without affecting the public.

"There are a lot of leakages when we provide subsidies to the very wealthy and 3.8 million foreigners who do not pay taxes.

"However, the implementation (of targeted subsidies) will not be entirely perfect. There are some weaknesses, and we are trying to improve them."

He said this at the launch of the Kerian Integrated Green Industrial Park Master Plan here.

Present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadhilah Yusof; Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz; Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad; and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Takiyuddin had said Pas welcomed the government's intentions regarding targeted diesel subsidies.

However, he added that he needed to express concerns about the scheme's implementation, especially about its potential negative impact on people's lives.

Anwar added that he had instructed enforcement authorities to impose severe penalties, such as revoking licences, on firms that raised the prices of goods and services.

"For instance, school bus operators are claiming that they need to raise prices.

"I asked the authorities to check if the operators were indeed receiving subsidies because we provide subsidies for school buses.

"I have instructed that their licences be scrutinised, and if they are found to be misusing them, we will revoke their licences.

"But if they really need the subsidies for their school buses, we will allow it, with a period for appeals and provision.

"Also, should big companies or tourism companies, which are already profitable, receive subsidies? The subsidies are meant for the needy."

Anwar said the government was aware of the criticism arising from the scheme, with some people accusing the government of being cruel.

However, he said, if the government lacked the courage to implement the scheme, it would continue to implement policies that harmed the country.

"For example, the RM4.5 billion we saved through the targeted electricity tariff subsidies, which the wealthy and 3.8 million foreigners had previously enjoyed."

He said the withdrawal of a subsidy did not necessarily lead to a price increase, citing the example of fresh chicken prices being lower than that in 2021, following the decision to float chicken prices.

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