KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya should change its approach in providing subsidies for cooking gas to ensure only those who need subsidies enjoy them, says Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM) lead activist Nadzim Johan.
In an interview with FMT, Nadzim said that for years, the government has been providing various subsidies, including for petrol and flour, to people who did not need them or should not be getting them.
Zooming in on the subsidy for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) used in cooking gas, Nadzim said it was ridiculous that even billionaires enjoyed the subsidy.
“How can the government continue to subsidise cooking gas for those who do not need it, such as the billionaires in the country?
“The government can save millions by cutting subsidies given to these people and channel the funds to other initiatives and projects to help the poor.”
Aside from the rich, Nadzim said under the current subsidy policy for cooking gas, errant businesses and foreigners were also enjoying the subsidy meant for Malaysians.
While he understood that migrant workers in the country were also facing a high cost of living, Nadzim said their employers should increase their wages, rather than the government having to subsidise their cost of living.
Nadzim proposed that the government scrap blanket subsidies and introduce a system to ensure that only those who needed the subsidies received them.
He said there were many options the government could explore to make this a reality.
“Perhaps the government should set a monthly income qualifier and then introduce a system linked to the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia, whereby retailers can see whether a buyer is entitled to the subsidies or not,” he said, adding this could be extended to mobile cooking gas retailers.
Alternatively, he said, the government could come up with some sort of subsidy card for those who applied for them.
“This is just an initial idea to build on, surely the government can find the best way to ensure subsidies reach only their target beneficiaries.
“At present, surely a few hundred million in subsidies are wasted on people who do not need them. This money is better used elsewhere.”
He said the government should not wait until it cannot afford the subsidies and completely shelve them as this would only burden the poor.
In January, it was reported that for every 14kg cooking gas tank, the government provides a subsidy of RM 20.86, as otherwise the cost of the gas tank would be RM 47.86.