THE quota of 60,000 tonnes of subsidised cooking oil a month is sufficient if used solely by locals and not foreigners, says Fuziah Salleh.
“Previously, we had initially calculated that 70,000 tonnes of cooking oil was needed if based on 60,000 tonnes of non-targeted subsidised cooking oil.
“But with the government’s new policy of not wanting foreigners to purchase and benefit from the subsidy, 60,000 tonnes (a month) would be sufficient,” said the Deputy Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister when answering a supplementary question raised by Bakri Jamaluddin (PN-Tangga Batu) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
She said that a total of about 5.8 million households, comprising those from the B40 and a portion of M40 groups, including 91,860 micro-traders, will be eligible for the targeted packet cooking oil subsidies when implemented next year.
She added that the improved Cooking Oil Price Stabilisation System (eCOSS) and National Utility Database would be used for the implementation of targeted cooking oil subsidies.
Fuziah acknowledged the need for better tracking and emphasised that the revised eCOSS system can efficiently trace subsidies to specific households or micro-traders
She said it was calculated that households need about 4.8kg of cooking oil per month while micro-traders use about 400 packets monthly.
There were calls for the government to increase cooking oil subsidies by at least 10,000 tonnes a month.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani (BN-Titiwangsa) suggested that direct cash transfers to accounts of those eligible be implemented.
“If each B40 household uses about 5kg of cooking oil a month, we can allow them to continue purchasing at RM2.50 per kg by giving cash transfers for the difference between the market price (and the subsidised price),” he proposed.
He said such an approach would see cooking oil packets sold at the market rate while saving the government billions by preventing leakages.
Johari noted cases of subsidised cooking oil being sold to micro-traders at inflated prices by wholesalers while some were being used as biofuel.
Fuziah took note of Johari’s suggestion, saying that it “may be the best way” to avoid leakages for cooking oil subsidies.
However, she said while no current mechanism exists for such a move, the government is considering this direction.