PUTRAJAYA, June 11 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the federal government is still “collecting data” for the planned targeted fuel subsidy, with just one month left to its own July deadline.

Earlier this year, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration said it expected to roll out the system by July 1, amid scepticism from both experts and the public due to the complexities of targeted subsidies.

“We are still collecting data,” Dr Mahathir told the press after chairing the third Economic Action Council meeting here.

The government said in April that study on the targeted petrol subsidy for the low-income or B40 group is now in the final stages, state news agency Bernama reported.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was quoted saying then that all related matters had been finalised, except for the recipient data, which is now in the process of being updated.

Petrol subsidies are often a politically-charged issue. The past Barisan Nasional government had tried to gradually remove the subsidies, only to reinstate it again following public backlash as the cost of living jumped.

Petrol pump prices are often the biggest factor in living cost inflation.

Economists and rating agencies have warned that petrol subsidies are unsustainable in the long run.

Putrajaya spent RM4.9 billion on fuel subsidies from January to November last year. The PH administration said that it would implement a targeted system to cut cost.

It is unclear if this system would target the B40 income earners or will also include the middle class, many of whom remain dependent on petrol subsidies to keep expenses low.