NST: Targeted subsidies: Bold, progressive move by PM, Madani govt, says MP

KUALA LUMPUR: A member of parliament lauds the cabinet's nod to implement targeted subsidies on fuel, starting with diesel, which is projected to save the country RM4 billion annually.

Pasir Gudang MP and PKR veteran Hassan Abdul Karim said the actions of the prime minister and the Madani government demonstrated a bold and responsible approach.

This decision, he said, proved that current leaders did not practise populist politics and that the government was acting prudently and cautiously.

"Targeted subsidies for RON 95 petrol have yet to be decided by the cabinet, which means (the government is) addressing a step-by-step approach, without rushing.

"The prime minister certainly understands the risks of implementing targeted subsidies, starting with diesel. Considering the impact on rakyat's support for the government, if this strict policy is not well managed, it could affect the outcome of the 16th General Election.

"Given the cost-savings of RM4 billion a year, from a national financial perspective, it will strengthen the government's fiscal position. The government will have funds for the development of the people and the country," he said in a statement today.

Hassan said the government's action was progressive as it considered the low-income and lower-middle-income populations.

He said those who would be affected by the implementation of this targeted subsidy were the high-income group, namely the T20, earning RM15,000 per month and above.

"As an MP and the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Domestic Trade, Entrepreneurship, Cost of Living and Agriculture member, I express my support for the government's initial efforts to implement targeted subsidies to address the RM80 billion annual expenditure on blanket subsidies.

"As long as the rakyat, the B40 and M40 groups are not victimised by this policy and the government continues to improve the aid allocation to the people, including Sumbangan Asas Rahmah and Sumbangan Tunai Rahmah, I will support this government decision."

Hassan believes that the savings from targeted diesel subsidies will allow the government to take several steps to assist the lower-income groups.

"Reform is sometimes unpopular. Reform in terms of national finance to reduce the growing and unsustainable amount of subsidies is an example of a reform that might be painful at the moment but will save the national economy in the future.

"It is a 'moment of truth' for a responsible government. The question is whether to do it or not," he said.

On May 21, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the cabinet agreed to implement targeted subsidies on fuel starting with diesel.

He said the targeted diesel subsidy would only apply to users in Peninsular Malaysia and not those in Sabah and Sarawak.

To mitigate sudden increases in the prices of goods and services, the government will continue providing diesel subsidies to traders who use diesel-based commercial vehicles.

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