Gov't ministries given two weeks to discuss targeted subsidies, says Anwar – fuel, electricity under focus –

Prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has given relevant government ministries two weeks to discuss and analyse the matter of targeted subsidies, including that for fuel. He said it was imperative that steps should be taken quickly to ease the burden on the poor, given the rise in the cost of living and price of goods.

“I have given them a period of two weeks to analyse and explore all the implications (of targeted subsidies) and also discuss with the private sector and investors so that they understand that the purpose of the subsidy is to ease the burden of the poor,” he said at a press conference following a special National Action Council meeting with government departments and agencies over the weekend.

Present at the meeting were officials from the finance ministry, the ministry of agriculture and foor industries, the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry, the ministry of energy and natural resources as well as those from the statistics department.

He said that following the formation of the cabinet, the ministers from these departments will discuss the results of these findings with their ministries as well as relevant agencies before presenting the results to the cabinet.

Anwar stated that he wasn’t against subsidies, but they had to be distributed to the right channels. “I have no problem with subsidies for the people, especially the poor. But our explanation in full, when it comes, is that this sub-section should be targeted. Otherwise, like in the case of fuel subsidies, the subsidy benefits everyone, including the rich,” he said.

“The rich should not benefit. For industries, concessions such as improved incentives and other benefits will be provided so that the removal (of subsidies) will not burden them,” he added.

The new PM also touched on the subject of electricity tariffs, saying they would have to be reviewed as the benefits received by the poor are almost the same as that for the rich. “For me, it is not reasonable, because while it is called a subsidy, it benefits others,” he said.

While stating that the subsidy for electricity would continue, he said that the rich and big industries should not receive subsidies because it would be a huge financial burden to the government.

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