Another Petrol Price Hike…

2011-04-20-chronicle-cartoon

(What we see whenever the Government increase the price and ask the taxpayers to change their lifestyle – a burden that we are  willing to share provided the Government does the same. Image source: http://patriotpost.us)

I have been quite busy with work this week and the recent news from tanah air did not sound that good too. From the massive water disruption in the Klang Valley on Merdeka Day (have they burned those who polluted the river and the council officers who closed one eye on the factory activities at the stake?) to the petrol hike from the BN Government and to my son have a bad cough for the last few days.

I read with interest on the various reactions on the Facebook and that included one that got angry when the petrol station “ran out” of petrol. And that reminded me of the 2 posts that I wrote sometime ago on the petrol hike:-

In short, subsidies of any nature have to go and so do any give away of public money to causes that do not generate real economy such as BRIM, smartphone rebates, etc. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Instead of giving people the cash which does not really elevate them from the line poverty in the long run, it is better to create more opportunities with employment opportunities, cheaper housing schema and increase the minimum wages to an extent where people can manage the ever increasing expensive.

It is also important to have more accountability and prudence in managing the money saved from these subsidies. Najib is saying that the Government will save RM1.1 billion this year and about RM3.3 billion annually. All fine and good with the money saved but seriously, it does nothing to improve our confidence of the Government in managing the money saved.

The Prime Minister can only convince the public of his sincerity and necessity of raising RON 95 petrol prices by 20 cents to save annual subsidy costs of RM 3.3 billion by also implementing open competitive tenders and fighting corruption which would save RM 51 billion annually.

Without accompanying measures that demonstrates the Federal government’s commitment against corruption, the public would easily see through such fake sincerity and counterfeit necessity to cut costs.

Why should the people, especially lower-income groups, bear the pain of paying RM3.3 billion annually in increased petrol prices if no action is taken against those political bandits who steal the nation of RM 51 billion annually?

(Source)

It’s obvious that in general sense, there is a feeling that the Government is not doing enough to curtail corruption and mismanagement of public fund. Why not stop the bigger leakage of public funds misuse instead of the easy way out by cutting down on the fuel subsidies?

There is already trouble brewing on the millions being paid to Najib’s consultants – some claimed to be inexperienced and continue to be overpaid. What about the millions that was pledged before the last general elections? Still remember the rather blatant  “I help you, you help me” election bribe? Najib could have been mistaken for the Santa Claus and Christmas did come early for some people. It was something I knew will come back to bite us after the election when Najib have to make good of his pre-election promises but does not have the dough to do so.

Seasoned analyst of Malaysian politics Bridget Welsh today said that BN chairman Najib Razak had so far spent a whopping RM58 billion or RM4,363 per voter to shore up support at the coming polls.

Welsh an associate professor of political science at the Singapore Management University, said the figure was reached after studying over 4,000 news reports since 2009 – the year Najib replaced Abdullah Badawi as prime minister – as well as the three budgets including supplemental budgets under Najib between 2010-2013.

“I conservatively estimate that his administration has spent a total of RM57.7 billion from after he took over as PM to just before the dissolution of parliament on election-related incentives,” said Welsh, writing in Malaysiakini.

She said some RM46.7 billion was spent on development targeted pledges and RM11.0 billion on ‘1Malaysia’ programmes.

“The two main components of this largess are politically targeted distributions and 1Malaysia spending. These measures are inherently political as not only are they framed as political tools, they are being openly been touted as a reason to support the BN at the voting booth,” she said.

(Source)

After all, the basis of spending is pretty simply – the income must be enough to cover the expenses. If the current income does not cover the expenses, either increase the income (one way would be by borrowing from someone else which is a bad thing) or reduce the expenses (still remember Najib’s famed advice to the common man – change your lifestyle?). So whilst reducing the petrol subsidies is one good way to reduce the expenses, replacing it with another wasteful one is not. And speaking about reducing wasteful expenses, how about this idea for a change?

All Cabinet members including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should now pay for their own fuel since the government claimed underserving parties were enjoying the benefits of a blanket subsidy that it reduced today, said PKR’s Rafizi Ramli.

The PKR strategy director also questioned why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak chose not to do away with hefty subsidies given to private companies such as independent power producers, which is estimated to be around RM13 billion, and instead “took the easy way out” by slashing public fuel subsidies.

“The fuel price hike burdens most of the average people and it is used as an excuse by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to hide his own weaknesses in managing the country’s economy,” Rafizi told reporters, and pointed to the country’s recent credit rating downgrade by global agency Fitch Ratings and the ringgit’s lowered value against the US dollar.

(Source)

That is a very sound advice indeed. Will the Government change its lifestyle too? We may not save the billions by doing that but it will show the sincerity and the commitment of the Government in ensuring that whatever money that the Government manages to collect is spent with greater prudence, accountability and transparency. We do not need overpaid consultants (Ministers and GLC management included), expensive overseas trips for politicians and their wives (kids and their servants tagging along), overrated mega projects that does not bring good returns and only benefits a small group of people and other nonsense like BRIM, etc.

If this is done and if coupled with a long term plan to increase the buying power of the consumers (and not just giving away taxpayers money), another petrol hike would not be treated with such hostility.

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