KUALA SELANGOR, July 8 — Malaysia’s official inflation rate of 2.8 per cent was among the lowest globally because tens of billions in public funds were being spent on subsidies annually, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said.
Launching the Kuala Selangor district education excellence service award ceremony today, he said the amount of public funds being spent to maintain prices at the moment was the most in the country’s history.
“Our subsidies are now at RM77 billion and could reach RM80 billion later this year.
“Even our subsidy for electrical tariffs has now reached RM6 billion. However, this made our country have one of the lowest inflation rate in the world at 2.8 per cent,” he said.
Tengku Zafrul added that the subsidy bill exceeded even the RM75 billion he allocated for development spending in this year’s Budget.
“So, if anyone is saying that subsidies were removed, then it is wrong.
“How many schools and things we could have built with that money?” he said.
At the event, Tengku Zafrul handed out 338 certificates of excellence to teachers from schools in the Kuala Selangor constituency.
There is speculation that Tengku Zafrul, a senator, could contest in this constituency in the next general election.
The incumbent MP, Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad of Amanah, has said he will not defend his seat.
Tengku Zafrul has denied this, but his persistent and frequent presence in the constituency — including today’s event — continues to fuel the rumour.
Also present today was Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar who handed out certificates to teachers under his constituency of Tanjong Karang.
Talking to the media after the event, Noh said that his ministry was working with cooperatives to have a “Livestock Federation” that would act as a collection and distribution centre for local and imported chicken in order to cut out middlemen and maintain prices.
“We have 15 cooperatives to join the federation in the country.
“Currently we are getting the agreement ready with the cooperation and companies involved,” he said.
* An earlier version of this article contained an error which has since been rectified.