Audit exposes weaknesses in cooking oil subsidy

PUTRAJAYA: An audit to gauge the effectiveness of the cooking oil subsidy found leakages, says Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali.

Without revealing specifics, the acting Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister said the leakages were found to be happening in districts.

He said the ministry began the full audit to study the cooking oil subsidy last month to determine its effectiveness and weaknesses.

“I acknowledge that findings from the audit showed there are leakages.

“By doing an audit, we will be able to list down the actual need for the product, how to improve the implementation of the subsidy and the mechanism needed to reduce leakages and misappropriation,” he told reporters after the launch of the Cost of Living Symposium here yesterday.

Asked if the leakages were serious, he said such scenarios differed from one locality to another.

“We will be able to have a clearer scenario once the audit is completed in January. Perhaps by then, a new minister will reveal the findings and the cases which we take action against,” he added.

He said proposals would also be made to prevent these leakages.

Armizan said the mechanism on how the targeted RON95 subsidy would be implemented would be brought to the Cabinet before the subsidy programme is rolled out next year.

He said discussions among ministries on how the mechanism would be set are ongoing and once firmed up, it would be presented to the Cabinet for approval.

On Monday, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said the government would roll out the targeted RON95 subsidy programme in the second half of 2024 to optimise resources towards those who need them the most.

On the implementation of targeted subsidies, Armizan said it would pose risks to the popularity of the government and its leaders, but this was a matter that needed to be done so that future leaders would not inherit a “legacy of debt” that would be too heavy for them to shoulder.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has the option to continue with the blanket subsidy mechanism – where the rich and non-citizens also enjoy subsidies – to gain popularity and to avoid being criticised by the people.

“If the Prime Minister merely wants to look at the issue of popularity, the easiest choice is to maintain the existing system.

“But by doing this, the burden on the government to allocate money for subsidies will continue to rise and this will affect the government’s fiscal position and contribute to an increase in the national debt.

“As it is now, the people have yet to feel the full effect of the government’s liabilities,” he said.

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