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Monday, January 25, 2010

ARTICLE: Loopholes for buying fuel with MyKad — Lim Sue Goan

Loopholes for buying fuel with MyKad — Lim Sue Goan

JAN 18 — This would be the busiest year for the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry. As the government is going to reduce subsidies on necessities, law enforcement officials would have to be diligent in their duties to prevent profiteers from fishing in troubled waters. Under the “1Malaysia” slogan, the government would have to take care of all Malaysians and for the very first time, it has listed turkey and pork as controlled items during Christmas and Chinese New Year.

However, there are many corrupt practices in the market, ordinary people are sometimes smarter than the officials. No matter how stringent the controls are, they still have ways to escape from being caught by law enforcement officials.

Take the implementation of buying fuel with MyKad, which is scheduled to be launched on 1 May, as an example, there are in fact many loopholes for the policy.

Under the new fuel subsidy structure, only Malaysian owners of vehicles with low engine capacity will enjoy full fuel subsidy, each person is limited to enjoy fuel subsidy for one vehicle and each person is allowed to pump limited amount of fuel every month. They have to face a lot of technical problems in order to implement such new policy.

Firstly, there are thousands of millions of different vehicles in the country. Would the government be able to match all the information of Malaysian citizens with the vehicles they own using computer system within three months? Moreover, some people have more than one vehicle registered under their names, how is the government going to ensure zero computer system error?

It is said that the government will also ask for assistants from banks, hoping to verify the information of vehicle owners through credit card records. The Road Transport Department (JPJ) will as well have to be psychologically prepared that many people may want to “change” the ownership of their vehicles to their relatives in order to enjoy fuel subsidy. Thus, it is not going to be a simple task.

In the first stage of implementation, there will be various errors and complaints for sure, including the computer system may be down; readers fail to read MyKad, no record in the computer system, some people are not allowed to enjoy fuel subsidy even thought they have not reach the limit amount yet, some small cars are not able to enjoy the subsidy while big vehicles can, or lorry drivers may complain that subsidised diesel is always sold out.

Secondly, how is the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry going to stop some Malaysians from lending their MyKads to foreigners? Foreigners may register their vehicles under borrowed Malaysian names to enjoy the subsidy. The readers in petrol stations recognise only cards but not the persons, the policy may become a profit-making opportunity for people living near country borders.

Thirdly, the policy in which vehicle owners are allowed to pump only a limited amount of fuel monthly may help to stop smuggling activities but fuel consumption is sometimes difficult to estimate. For example, we will have to consume more fuel during festive seasons as we have to return to our home towns. Also, sales persons and field staff have to go out very frequently. Such a policy will cause fierce opposition.

If a person does not purchase fuel up to the limited amount this year, could the remaining quota being carried forward to next month? How much is the reasonable fuel consumption amount? A total of 50 litres would be more than enough for those working near their houses but for sales persons, it may not enough even for two days. Also, those who cannot use up the quota may resell the remaining amount.

The government may think that the new mechanism can save a significant amount of subsidies but it does not take into account that if it is not effectively and smoothly implemented, it my affect the operation of industry and commerce, as well as cause an inflation.

The most crucial question is, how is the government going to use the billions of ringgit saved from the reduce of subsidies? The people will never wish to see their hard-earned money to be simply squandered and wasted. —




Thay's all folks, thanks for having the time and patience to read this SECOND WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE.

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