Lim said the fund is necessary to cushion the effects the rising oil prices will have on goods worldwide that will affect Malaysia too. — Bernama pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Opposition lawmaker Lim Guan Eng today questioned if the government was so short of money that it cannot inject RM3 billion as seed money for a price stablisation fund to reduce the financial burden on Malaysians.
The Bagan MP said the fund is necessary to cushion the effects the rising oil prices will have on goods worldwide that will affect Malaysia too, despite being an oil and gas producer.
“Rising oil prices will only cause food prices and other commodities to go up higher. Unless a price stabilisation fund is set up, the people will have no protection and face the full brunt of the price increase,” he said in a statement today.
The former finance minister suggested the government allocate RM3 billion as seed money for this price stabilisation fund.
“Has the government run out of money until they cannot even find seed money of RM3 billion to set up a Price Stabilisation Fund to reduce rising cost of living faced by the rakyat?” Lim asked.
The DAP secretary-general also noted that the government has had to increase its spending on petrol subsidy to RM28 million due to the ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
He said there needs to be closer scrutiny to the cost-benefit of rising oil prices on Malaysia, and claimed the government had promised to disclose it but had yet to do so.
“The government must take proactive action and can no longer do nothing in the face of rising prices,” he added.
Lim suggested several measures the government could take to alleviate the financial strain on Malaysians.
Among them, he called for a postponement in increasing electricity tariffs on commercial users, dropping the plan to raise the compound fines for individuals and companies that break the Covid-19 SOPs, and letting workers withdraw up to RM5,000 of their savings in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Last week, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said that the government could pay up to RM28 billion in subsidies for petrol, gas and diesel this year as the Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted supplies, pushing prices that are already elevated further up.
Global brent prices have shown an uptrend since last year, reaching US$85 (RM357) a barrel in January 2022 from US$30 in the same period last year, causing subsidies to rise tenfold to RM2 billion that month, Tengku Zafrul told the Dewan Rakyat during Question Time.
Putrajaya could pay even more now as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed global oil prices to US$100 a barrel or roughly RM420, the highest since 2014.
According to Tengku Zafrul, the Malaysian government is already paying up to RM1.65 for every litre of RON95.