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Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 10:45:48 AM
by razak ahmad
PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has reassured low-income earners struggling to cope with the hike in fuel prices that he is sensitive to their plight.
The Prime Minister said this in an e-mail message to followers of his 1Malaysia newsletter yesterday, raising expectations that helping Malaysians cushion the impact of fuel subsidy cuts will be the major theme of Budget 2014.
He said long-term measures to cut subsidies were needed for the country to weather current uncertainties in the global economy.
“However, I wish to assure all Malaysians, especially low-income earners, that the Government is sensitive and has prepared measures to help you overcome the price increase,” Najib said.
The Government last month announced a reduction in fuel subsidies by 20 sen, which led to an increase in the pump prices for petrol and diesel.
In a separate posting on his blog, Najib said the Government would continue to monitor prices of goods and services to ensure they were not exploited by irresponsible parties.
“The reduction in subsidies is obviously a heavy burden to various groups in society – we understand this. Therefore, suitable measures will be implemented to help you overcome this increase in prices,” said Najib.
A footnote at the end of the blog posting, dated Oct 20, urged readers to follow the tabling of Budget 2014 at Dewan Rakyat this Friday, suggesting that measures to help cushion the price hikes were in store.
The Prime Minister said that despite the recent price hike, the Government was still subsidising RON95 petrol by 63 sen per litre and diesel by 80 sen per litre.
The Government spent RM24.8bil this year alone to subsidise fuel and this accounted for relatively low petrol prices in Malaysia compared with some countries in the region.
Najib said that while a litre of RON95 petrol was sold at RM2.10 in Malaysia, the pump price in Thailand was currently RM4.74, in the Philippines RM5.44 and in Indonesia RM3.05.
Najib said that while Malaysia exported oil, it also had to import petroleum from other countries to meet rising domestic demand.
The Government, said the Prime Minister, could not resort to irresponsible fiscal measures by continuing to set aside between RM10bil to RM20bil for fuel subsidies every year when the money could be channelled to more pressing needs such as education and infrastructure.
“I hope this necessary measure (to rationalise subsidies) will be accepted well with an open heart by all quarters in our efforts to work together to achieve our objective in becoming a high-income country,” said Najib.
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Government, Budget 2014
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