Pakatan: Fuel Hike Only the Beginning

PETALING JAYA: Last night’s increase in price of RON 95 and diesel by 20 sen per litre is just the beginning of more to come, now that Barisan Nasional (BN) has secured its mandate, Pakatan Rakyat said today.

Opposition leaders said Malaysians would feel an even harder pinch in the next few months as electricity tariff was expected to go up and the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced.

PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said this would be on top of the expected rise in the price of goods, initiated by manufacturers forced to cushion the increase in fuel prices.

“I’m worried that this may lead to escalating crime, as the lower class scramble to manage higher cost of living while their income remains stagnant,” the former Kubang Kerian MP told FMT.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had vowed that the government would increase the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) payouts to ensure low-income families were not burdened by the fuel hike.

DAP’s Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said even the cash aid was not enough to counter the increase in the price of goods, electricity tariff and GST.

“BR1M will not cushion all the increases in price that we expect in the next three or four months. I doubt the BRIM payout will be RM1,000 as promised.

“It will more likely be RM700, an increase of RM200 and that is not sufficient,” he said.

Salahuddin believed the government had raised the fuel price to compensate for the billions it lost and would continue to lose over the BR1M cash vouchers.

Some 6.8 million households and unmarried individuals were beneficiaries of the BR1M 2.0 aid early this year, with up to RM2.9 billion disbursed by the government.

Najib had said that by slashing the fuel subsidies to 63 sen per litre for RON95 and 80 sen per litre for diesel, the government will save at least RM1.1 billion.

“The government may use the excuse that they want to reduce subsidies, which should not be the philosophy of a government that has the made the rakyat’s welfare its priority,” said Salahuddin.

The PAS leader also believed the timing of the fuel hike – four months after the general election – was deliberate in order to avoid voter backlash at the ballot box.

“I hope the rakyat can see clearly now that while Pakatan Rakyat offered to reduce petrol prices should it win the election, BN, in contrast, has hiked up the price,” he said.

Ong said BN could rely on other methods to manage the government’s finances better, without burdening the rakyat.

“They can reduce unnecessary expenditure in the budget, rather than increasing our cost of living,” said the professor.

“They can also raise revenue by having open tenders for major projects such as the Tun Razak exchange and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) project. There are so many other alternatives but at this point, reducing subsidies is unnecessary.”

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday