KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — A suitable mechanism of action for the implementation of targeted subsidy is being formulated to ensure that the assistance provided by the government will be received by the deserving groups, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said various aspects of the mechanism needed to be fine-tuned so that the allocation set aside by the government to help the people of the country did not end up being arbitrarily enjoyed by irresponsible parties, including foreigners.

“Yes, the government has suffered a massive loss due to untargeted subsidies as all quarters were enjoying subsidies which are meant for a more deserving group, which is the poor,” he said during Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

He said this in reply to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) who wanted to know the government’s move in addressing the leakage of subsidies which currently being enjoyed by the rich and the foreigners.

The prime minister said that the matter also had been raised and studied by previous governments, but could not be implemented thus far.

Ismail Sabri said the government is also in the midst of combating smuggling activities involving subsidised items, such as cooking oil, at the industrial level and at national borders.

He said the authorities would also conduct audits on manufacturers and get detailed information on their buyers.

“The easiest misappropriation (of the subsidies) would be at the repackers level as they were allowed to repack, for example, a tonne of cooking oil, but where was the oil sent and who were the recipients? These are the details we want to get from the factories,” he said.

To combat smuggling activities at the borders, he said the government had ordered the Royal Malaysia Police and the Armed Forces to be involved, apart from the enforcement team from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs.

“The government doesn’t sit still...InsyaAllah, we are doing our level best for the country,” he said.

Elaborating, Ismail Sabri said in order to help Malaysian families cope with the rising cost of living, the government had allocated subsidies of over RM77 billion, compared to the original allocation of RM31 billion, for 2022.

He said this includes the subsidy for cooking oil amounting to RM4 billion, wheat (RM40 million), liquefied petroleum gas (RM2.6 billion), diesel (RM7.5 billion) and RON95 petrol (RM27 billion).

“No subsidies have ever been withdrawn. If there were campaigns calling for the government to return the subsidies, they were not true because the subsidies have never been removed since the day they were implemented,” he said.

The prime minister said the subsidies given by the government had also caused the country’s inflation rate to be at 2.8 per cent, the lowest in Southeast Asia.

He said apart from the subsidies, the government had also given cash assistance through the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM), with those in the B40 group receiving a maximum of RM2,600 per year.

“Insya-Allah, we will see how the situation is. If we need to increase it (BKM), we will. If the prices of goods are established, we won’t,” he said.

Meanwhile, in reply to Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Sharif (BN-Jempol) on the difference between the Special Task Force on Jihad Against Inflation and the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL), Ismail Sabri said the task force focuses on the latest and current issues on price hikes, while NACCOL, which meets twice a year, discusses on policy issues, not only concerning prices of goods but also costs of transport and housing issues.

“The special task force chaired by Ketereh MP (Tan Sri Annuar Musa) is required to make announcements or hold a press conference twice a week so that the people know the latest development and what actions are being taken by the government,” he said. — Bernama