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Anwar's rhetoric against the rich and powerful cannot justify half-baked targeted subsidies

As usual, the burden is shifted to the poor, who can barely make ends meet.

P Ramasamy
3 minute read

Ten companies have been hauled up for increasing the price of goods after the government removed flat subsidy on diesel, causing the price of the fuel to rise by more than 50% to RM3.35 per litre.

The targeted subsidies were rationalised on the grounds that the government wanted to save RM4 billion and eliminate diesel smuggling and other forms of leakages.

As I said earlier, the targeted diesel subsidies were introduced without realising their full impact.

There were proposals for incremental targeted subsidies but the government did not heed them.

Experts warned that the targeted diesel subsidies will set off a chain reaction that will lead to an increase in the price of goods and services.

Barely a week has passed since the targeted subsidies were introduced and the prices of goods and services have risen. If only ten companies have been identified, I am sure there are more companies that have increased the prices of goods and services.

The targeted diesel subsidies would not have been necessary if the government, through its various enforcement agencies, had controlled the leakage of diesel fuel.

However, instead of relying on the enforcement agencies, the government has tried to target the subsidies.

The monthly payment of RM200 per person is a minuscule amount which is a mockery when it comes to overcoming the difficulties caused by inflation.

I believe that the government and enforcement agencies will not be able to control the prices of goods and services. The worst of what the targeted diesel subsidies have done is yet to come for the country.

It is strange that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim claims to be targeting the rich and powerful, but government policy is going astray in assisting the poor.

Anwar is an accomplished leader in the politics of rhetoric. He does not understand - or pretends not to understand - that given the skewed economic and social structure, any policy, no matter how egalitarian, has its weaknesses.

What is the point of saving money if inflation becomes uncontrollable?

As usual, the burden is not passed on to the rich, but to the poor, who can barely make ends meet.

What is the point of saving money through targeted diesel subsidies if the financial burden is exacerbated by rising prices for goods and services? Nevertheless, the government boasts of keeping inflation under control.

Are targeted diesel subsidies the solution when the government is facing financial constraints? Why should the poor and unfortunate of the country pay for the mistakes and follies of those in power?

Why should the poor in the B40 category be squeezed financially by those who continue to indulge in corruption and financial misdeeds?

Anwar's rhetoric against the rich and powerful cannot validate the half-baked, targeted diesel subsidies that invariably hit the poor and unfortunate.

Wouldn’t it be wise for Anwar and his cheerleaders in the Cabinet to reconsider the premature introduction of the targeted fuel subsidies?

I humbly suggest that Anwar stop talking about reforms from now on. What we have under his Madani government is anything but reforms.

P Ramasamy is the former deputy chief minister of Penang.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.