Friday, May 28, 2010

Cut down government wastages - keep the subsidies for the benefit of all Malaysians

The UMNO-led BN government should really be looking at cutting down government wastages rather than trying to remove subsidies...

They asked us to shift from RON97 to RON95 - and changing petrol certainly has an impact on engines, and we did it. They should only be subsidizing RON95 now....and, of course diesel.

Subsidies should also continue for basic food items, including cooking oil and gas. 
Should the government be subsidizing tolled-highways. Maybe not, where there are alternative government roads. That money should be used to upgrade existing government roads - and building new alternative roads. But, where there are no alternative government road, like from KL to Karak, then the government should continue subsidizing.

The government is trying to demonize 'subsidies' - and that is wring because these subsidies benefit the people (the 'rakyat') generally, and this is good as the majority of Malaysians are still poor and in the lower-incomed group. There is also a large number of 'retired' persons, and benefits should be extended to cover everyone above the age of 55(or 60) - for currently, attention is only being given to those who previously worked for the government - the public servants. Let us not forget that those in the private sector and self-employed also did contribute to the development of the country. Benefits must be for all the elderly ...all the 'warga mas'...

Now there is a lot of wastage of money by reason of 'privatization'...tendering out, etc. If your pipe burst, no longer does the JBA come and do the repairs - they give it out to a contractor. Money could have been saved if the JBA (or the JKR) did these minor maintenance and repair works. Same with holes on the road - now a tender...and some private contractor ends up doing the job. Not only is there a delay ...but it is also a lot of waste of money.

In the armed forces, previously the army personnel did their own cooking, own repairs and maintenance, grass cutting in the camp....but now everything has been been contracted out. Our soldiers only march, train...and....Some senior military personnel was not at all happy with this... Maybe, we can give these back to the army. Not only is it good for moral and team building - but it also gives them additional skills in cooking, minor electrical, water, construction...which is all useful when they retire after serving 21 years in the army. 
How much does it cost to re-tar a less than 1 KM tarred road? Well, now it is about RM100,000.... when the cost should be far less...maybe about 20% of that sum. 

There are so many ways that our UMNO-led BN government can save money - and cutting subsidies is not the way. As it is, it is already near impossible to survive as a sole-bread winner family because wages were kept low for so long. Now both spouses are forced to work - hence the need for domestic workers, day care, etc... 

Fuel subsidies - well, Malaysia was not interested in improving and developing public transport systems. In fact, some say that they made sure it was bad...and undependable - so much so that people were forced to get their own cars...motorbikes just to get to work. If there was an effective public transport system, there will be less cars on the road - hence less fuel used...hence less spend on subsidies. [Now, they plan to just give cash payments for cars below 1,000 cc, and this is wrong since the lowest cc Proton was 1,300 cc.]

What about trains? Look at the East Coast - it is still so backward and slow. There is, in fact no new rail lines build since independence. We should have a west coast line - travelling by the west coast line. Another east coast line from JB-Pekan-Kuantan-Kuala Trengganu-Kota Baru.... A line maybe from Mersing cutting accross to Seremban. A line from Mentakab to Kuala Lumpur. A line from Kota Baru to Penang...and of course also more railway lines in Sabah and Sarawak. High speed trains....Town busses - maybe run by the local councils. Cut the amount of fuel consumed by improving public transport - now attention has only been with regard to Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley..(even then, there is no LRT to the Court Complex, Goverment Complex in Pudu...) Why? Some say the problem was Proton and the 'Malaysian' cars - which needed to be sold for no one else was interested in them. 

This plan to disburse money through Pos Malaysia - wonder how much is Pos Malaysia getting from this? 

And they say that the government is going to get feedback from the people....BUT, I do not see that. We should have a referendum to get everyone's opinion. Before that, access must be given to all persons with different views to express themselves to the Malaysian people. Now, the government is just giving one perspective, i.e. the UMNO-led BN perspective - and that is simply that 'subsidies are bad'...'Government wasting a lot of money on subsidies'..."If subsidies is not ended - Malaysia will become bankrupt" - Why waste money to buy a submarine...and maintain it? Does Malaysia really need a submarine? Why? Or is it just like we have the highest flagpole, highest Twin Towers, ....but a very bad Gini Coeficient (i.e. that shows that distribution of wealth is really lop-sided)

Subsidies for only a select group - the poor. Well, Malaysians do not trust the government - for many believe only the UMNO (and the BN) people may be getting these 'subsidies' - but not those who support the Opposition and others. Better give all the benefits of the subsidies - for if given to a 'select group' only - it could be used as a tool to 'force' people to support the UMNO-led BN [or the existing political coalition in power] - not fair...and open to abuse. Subsidies for all is best...

See earlier posts:

Should we cut 'cooking gas' subsidy? Electricity subsidy? Water subsidy? No, we should not...

Should we cut education subsidies in Malaysia?

Demonising subsidies is wrong. Subsidies is essential for justice...and the people of Malaysia

Malaysians will not “dance on the streets” when the government retracts subsidies for many essentials, warns Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala.

Speaking at the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) Subsidy Rationalisation Lab “open day” in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Idris told his audience that an austerity drive was inevitable.

idris jala pemandu subsidies powerpoint“This is the most unpopular decision the government has had to make since independence. It will never be popular and if you want to wait until it is popular, we will never do it in our lifetime.

“My worry is that if we vote not to do this, our children will condemn us. A saying that I live by is that in life, there is no gain without pain, and there is no breakthrough without breakdown,” he said to crowd of about 1,000, with some seen nodding in agreement.

Donning his old corporate hat, the former MAS chief executive officer strayed from his rostrum, opting for a more freestyle presentation, while he pitched to his audience mostly made up of businessmen, civil servants and the public.
Quest to be developed nation

Reciting from memory with a few quick glances of his presentation slides, Idris said the government does not have much choice if it wants to cut its deficit and move Malaysia towards a developed nation status.
"We have no choice or else we will end up like Greece. These bold steps would take us closer to 2020," he said.
In his speech, Idris warned that Malaysia would go bankrupt by 2019 unless subsidies for fuel, food, electricity and other staples are removed.

pemandu subsidies subsidy presentationA record high of RM74 billion were paid in subsidies last year while budget deficit hit a 20-year high, prompting the federal government to consider subsidy cuts.

The move is bound to be politically damaging for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and likely to cause inflation and dampen growth.

However, the opposition and civil society are arguing that and subsidy cuts must be staggered with a greater emphasis on plugging leakages and stamping our corruption.- Malaysiakini, 27/5/2010, Austerity chief: No pain, no gain

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