THE RM56 BILLION RINGGIT QUESTION (Also posted in Malaysia-Today)
I am referring to the article in Malaysiakini: Pump price at 'market levels by August'.
First of all lets get some basic facts right.
Firstly Malaysia is a net exporter of crude oil. So the government did NOT subsidize our petrol. The RM56 billion ‘subsidy’ per year is the extra amount that the government would have earned if it had exported all of our oil production. There is no 'spiralling bill', the government did not lose any money because it is our own oil and we are not paying anybody for our oil supply.
Secondly – when the government scrapes the so called ‘subsidy’ that it did not pay any money for in the first place – it is forcing the rakyat to buy back our own resources at a much higher price. Each and every one of us will suffer because of this, especially the poor.
The hike in oil prices has not caused hardships to our government. On the contrary it has already earned record profits for Petronas. And now our government is going to squeeze even more profits by squeezing the rakyat. Put it bluntly, the Barisan Nasional government will get filthy rich form the blood money of the rakyat.
Now the 56 billion ringgit question. What will the Barisan Nasional government do with the RM56 billion windfall per year? We already suffered a price hike on our petrol almost a year back, and have we seen any accounting on what has been done with the extra money that the government collected? I remembered that there were some talks of using the money to improve our public transport system. But so far I have only heard about the ailing KTM, failing bus companies and government cutting subsidry to Rapid KL.
Don’t you feel suspicious of what is going to happen to this hefty sum of money? RM56 billion is a mind boggling sum of money, it is almost enough to build 5 Putrajaya according to the official figure. The last thing I want to see is for the money to end up in political machines and lining the pockets of politicians and their cronies. I hope our Pakatan Rakyat representatives will see to it that every sen of it is accounted for.
I am not against raising the price of petrol. It is a matter of urgency that we cut our dependency on fossil fuels now as it is the main source of green house gas that is causing havoc in our weather patterns and ecosystems.
Even if global warming and destruction of our ecosystems is not your concern, you still have to consider the fact that crude oil price is not going to come down. Some analysts even projected that crude oil may reach USD 200 per barrel by 2012. Have you asked what is going to happen to our economy when our oil reserves run out in 5 years time?
Don’t you find it amazing that nobody is talking about these pressing issues now? This whole issue about oil subsidy is completely beside the point. The way it was phrased as if it was costing our government a hefty sum of money was completely misleading. The more pertinent point is really how we can best make use of the last of our rapidly depleting resource to safeguard our future. I have not seen any sensible policies regarding this from the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat camps as yet. It is already sparking riots in many parts of the world, including our close neighbors, and yet nobody here seems to think that we have a problem.
I don’t think we can look towards our government for answers. Our so called ‘leaders’ are engrossed in fighting and bringing each other down, unscrupulously stirring up racial sentiments for their survivals. They never have the track records of putting the interest of the rakyat in the forefront anyway. The whole political scene is simply disgusting and depressing beyond words.
This is the time that ordinary people like you and I have to come forward and take charge. Count ourselves lucky that we have a 5 years grace period to get ready for the end of cheap oil. But we need to make sure that every ounce of our resources is used wisely for the survival of our future generations. That can only happen if we, the rakyat, unite as one single voice to demand for the right things to be done.
There are a lot we can do together, and we are not isolated either. There are already over a million environmental and social justice organizations around the world that we can work with right now. The fisrt step is to realize that we have a problem in hand. This is not just any ordinary problem. What we are facing is a problem of epic proportion that is going to require the cooperation of the whole world.