Surely, I Must Have Something To Say About Fuel Prices!?
Yes, I do, and stop calling me Shirley
Again, the knee-jerk reaction on the @##X&%# fuel price increase was fun to watch. Here are my observations:
1) In general I am in agreement with the price increase, but why wasn't the industrial side included in the price increase, surely we can save even more. If you want your country to stay competitive (or learn to be), the subsidy has to go. Why is it that industrial companies get to benefit? That is not helping them, a proper plan to eliminate the subsidy must be made clear, e.g. 30% subsidy up till end-2007, 10% subsidy till end-2009, no subsidy after end-2011. That way, the public and companies can plan for them, sure stock markets may go for a fall but in the long run its really good for all, we cannot keep this subsidy up. When companies everywhere can compete on real market prices of fuel, we are like babies, still needing to be breastfed when we are 5 years old!!! A subsidy is needed in the early formative years of any industry, gee, we are now in 2006, we invest overseas, our stocks are in MSCI, our ringgit is deliberately undervalued,.... and still we need crutches like the fuel oil subsidy? The sooner we learn to cope and compete without the subsidy, the better we will be. If we not, we are just subsidising corporate profits with our oil revenue, when the oil revenue is supposed to be for the people.
2) Much has been said about the public transport system, you don't go hitting the general public when the public transport system is in shambles still. OK, our town/city planning may be difficult to work with - then at least reduce the taxes with respect to cars. The richest nation on per capita basis, Norway, takes only one year's salary to pay for a family car. While Malaysians take about 4 years on average to pay for one lousy car. Last I heard, the Norwegians do not even make any car of their own. If you cannot get a good public transport system within the next 2-3 years (of course, we couldn't), then at least give the people some relief in car payments - cut the car taxes and duties by half, at least. Singaporeans make at least 2-3 times more than the average Malaysian, and our cars cost basically the same (albeit 10%-15% higher in Singapore) - why? Plus, Singapore ain't got no oil reserves to talk about. Cut the price of cars already!!!
3) When you make comments about pro-against fuel price increase, it is important to bear in mind that it makes a bloody whole load of difference if you make RM1,500p.m. or RM15,000 p.m. - each will be looking at different issues, one type of issues is personal (how it affects me and my family), and the other is more of national interest and economic sense. We need to comment and hear on both. Why is the burden on the public only and not inclusive of the industrial side? We also needed to be aware that the subsidy is there to allow the government to suppress wages (especially at government departments). If the government can go and introduce the price increase and NOT succumb to pressures of salary adjustments among any/all government departments/agencies within 12 months - then I say, good job to the man.
4) We have to remember (including politicians) that oil belongs to THE PEOPLE, not the government. The government is just stewards of our assets and resources. Petronas is making billions, the government is already making billions from taxing off oil revenue. Taking away the subsidy is only reallocating the revenue, now the government better make it clear where the RM4 billion is going to. Because that RM4 billion means it could be a dividend of RM160 nett to each and every Malaysian (assuming a population of 25 million.... sorry to the illegal folks) a year. That's a lot of dough to whack off every family every year - a family of 5 basically has to make do with RM800 LESS every year - c.b. there goes the budget for CNY, Hari Ray or Thaipusam!!!
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