GEORGE TOWN: Fuel prices are unlikely to be raised further – at least until next March.
Short of assuring the public that the 78 sen per litre petrol increase would remain until the government’s new subsidy scheme expires in March 2009, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said any increase before then would be “impractical”.
“If we raise fuel prices before giving out the new subsidies promised, people will complain.
“I can assure you that whatever rebates and road tax reductions we have announced, we will follow through but I cannot give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer as to whether there will be any more price increases in the coming months,” he said after opening the Malay Contractors Association Malaysia (Penang branch) AGM yesterday.
Commenting on analyst reports which anticipate the price of petroleum hitting US$200 (RM680) per barrel, Shahrir said:
“I hope it doesn’t reach that high but if it does, I hope the price won’t peak for a long period.”
On the cash rebate the Government promised to vehicle owners following the fuel price hike, Shahrir said the amount would not be reduced even if the oil price in the world market continued to soar.
The cash rebate covers cars and motorcycles for which the road tax is renewable between April 1, 2008 and March 21, 2009.
On calls by certain quarters that Cabinet ministers’ allowances be reduced and the savings passed on to consumers, Shahrir said that it was “irrational”.