KOTA KINABALU: Diesel subsidy should continue for Sabah and Sarawak, said Parti Warisan.
Warisan vice president Datuk Junz Wong said the federal government's recent decision to rationalise diesel subsidy in the 2024 Budget is causing a growing concern among Sabahans and Sarawakians.
"The rugged terrains and challenging road conditions have compelled people in these areas to opt for four-wheel-drive vehicles, which run on diesel," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 18).
"This choice is often made out of necessity due to the unsuitability of smaller, cheaper sedans for these road conditions. The diesel subsidy has played a crucial role in alleviating these residents' financial burden," Wong said.
He said the current diesel price stood at RM2.15 per litre, with a substantial subsidy of RM1.60.
However, he added that with the impending subsidy removal in the coming year, the price is set to soar to RM3.75 per litre.
"It's not just four-wheel-drive vehicle owners who will be affected. The cutback in subsidies also threatens the economic stability of villagers and farmers who rely on trucks and vans for agricultural activities," he said.
"This, in turn, strains these regions' already fragile agricultural sector. Even fishermen, who depend on diesel to power their boats for their daily catch, are not exempted from the impending hardships," he said.
The Tanjung Aru assemblyman insisted that the federal government consider the unique needs of Sabah and Sarawak and not just focus on the peninsular.
While the government's decision to eliminate diesel subsidies is an attempt to curb leakage and smuggling issues, Wong said a more targeted, comprehensive and region-specific approach should be adopted.
"Strengthening enforcement and ensuring that law enforcement officers maintain integrity in their duties could be more effective measures to address the problem without penalising genuine diesel users in Sabah and Sarawak," he said.
He suggested that the government persist with the vital diesel subsidies for Sabah and Sarawak and called on the federal government to reevaluate this policy and embrace the proposal.