Malaysians paid over RM1b in hidden fuel taxes since December, MP claims

PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli alleged that road users across the country have been paying above market price for the commodity, even after the complete removal of subsidies, due to the plunge in global crude oil prices. ― file picture
PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli alleged that road users across the country have been paying above market price for the commodity, even after the complete removal of subsidies, due to the plunge in global crude oil prices. ― file picture

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Malaysians have unknowingly paid more than RM1 billion in taxes to Putrajaya over the past two months as pump prices remain on a controlled float, an opposition lawmaker claimed today.

PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli alleged that road users across the country have been paying above market price for the commodity, even after the complete removal of subsidies, due to the plunge in global crude oil prices.

“Because the rakyat continue to pay higher than market price, Barisan Nasional received a windfall by collecting petrol tax without announcing it to the rakyat,” he said in a statement, referring to the ruling coalition.

“For the month of January 2015, the rakyat paid RM307 million in petrol taxes for RON95 and RM209 million for diesel,” he added.

Rafizi claimed that this was on top of some RM633 million in total fuel taxes collected from the public over the month of December last year.

The trained accountant noted that for this month alone, Malaysians have paid RM1.91 for every litre of RON95 grade petrol, even as the Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded benchmark price had gone down to RM1.63 a litre as at January 28.

Similarly for diesel, road users have been forking out RM1.93 per litre when the actual price of the fuel had plummeted to RM1.62 per litre as at January 28, according to the Singapore Gasoil standard.

The benchmark price for both fuels was previously set at RM1.75 per litre on New Year’s day.

Rafizi demanded that Putrajaya eliminate the “hidden” tax imposed on pump purchases, which in turn should bring the unsubsidised price of RON95 to RM1.62 per litre and of diesel to RM1.65 per litre, based on the average pump price for the whole of January.

The former Petronas man added that pump prices should be reviewed weekly to avoid a repeat of the situation, and to keep the RM1.149 billion in taxes covertly collected in a fuel price stabilisation fund to manage a rebound in global crude oil prices.

Oil companies should at the same time only sell their petrol and diesel supply on consignment basis to minimise losses sustained by petrol stations, while the government should remove sales tax on petrol or diesel purchases by the industrial sector to bring down production costs, he added.

“This act of taxing the rakyat through the purchase of petrol and diesel at a time when the nation’s economy is getting worse shows the financial desperation of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration,” Rafizi said, referring to the prime minister.

Last week, Najib announced a revision of his 2015 Budget, cutting Putrajaya’s operational expenditure for the year by RM5.5 billion as the country slashed its projected oil revenue by about half.

Malaysia has since pegged its earnings from crude oil — which together with gas contributes close to one-third of the country’s revenue — to a year-long average of US$55 (RM199.65) per barrel, half of the initial estimate of US$110 (RM399.30) per barrel.