JUNE 10 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that all prime ministers before him had agreed on targeted subsidy.

Is that so?

Anwar’s predecessor, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, did indeed say the government had suffered a massive loss due to untargeted subsidies as all quarters were enjoying subsidies which were meant for a more deserving group — that is, the poor.

He said it during Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat in reply to Anwar, then MP for Port Dickson, who wanted to know the government’s move in addressing the leakage of subsidies which were being enjoyed by the rich and the foreigners.

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Ismail Sabri informed the Dewan Rakyat that the matter had been raised and studied by previous governments but could not be implemented thus far.

Ismail Sabri’s predecessor, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, once said that the government could save RM20 billion a year by implementing targeted subsidy. He was then the National Recovery Council (NRC) chairman.

According to Muhyiddin, only 20 per cent of the subsidy provided by the government was taken up by the B40 group while the rest was enjoyed by groups which did not deserve it.

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“Almost 50 per cent of government subsidies are used by people in the well-to-do category, those with big vehicles and so on.

“So, I think the basis for the government to make a decision (on targeted subsidy scheme) is very strong for a higher percentage to reach the target group (B40),” he said.

Muhyiddin’s predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had also said to the effect that targeted fuel subsidy — then through the Petrol Subsidy Programme (PSP) — was the right move by the government to ensure that the aid benefits only the B40 group.

He said this was to prevent ineligible groups from enjoying the fuel subsidy from the government.

“Studies have shown that there are people owning six cars who benefit from the fuel subsidy and that is why we are giving for only one car from the B40 group.

“We cannot give subsidy to the rich, and we see that under the old subsidy those using luxury cars like Rolls-Royce also get the subsidy,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

Finally, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak vigorously defended his government’s subsidy rationalisation programme. According to him, the decision to change its policy from bulk subsidies to targeted subsidies had shown very good results.

He added that without strong economic fundamentals and plugging leakages, it would be difficult for the country to achieve the desired growth rate.

Anwar said the government’s decision to implement targeted diesel subsidies was necessary to save the country. He echoed what had been said before.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.