Rafizi confirms Malaysia will go ahead with cutting down on petrol subsidies this year

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli has reportedly insisted that Malaysia will continue to reduce petrol subsidies this year to reduce its fiscal deficit.

Financial news Bloomberg reported him saying that the government is currently on track to concentrate its aid on helping the poor.

“We are sticking to it,” he said in an interview at Putrajaya yesterday,

The Pandan MP further added that the government must “manage the sequence” of the reduction, in light of the possibility of inflation increasing even before subsidy reductions are put into effect.

It further said that the country intended to phase out blanket subsidies for RON95 fuel, which is the most widely used and economical gasoline variant, which constituted the majority of the RM81 billion spent on subsidies last year.

“In order to reach the fiscal target of 4.3 per cent, a certain timeline has to be abided. Otherwise the dollars and cents will be off,” Rafizi reportedly said.

Last year, Rafizi announced that the new RON95 petrol subsidy programme to replace the blanket policy would be introduced this year.

He reiterated that the current model has allowed the top 20 per cent (T20) households to become 53 per cent of the recipients, and is deemed unsustainable.

Bloomberg reported that the ringgit has depreciated approximately four per cent this year and was hovering near its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis of 1998 as of Tuesday.

Despite the decline in the ringgit's value, Rafizi expressed minimal concern about its performance, noting that it hasn't deterred foreign investor interest or hindered the government's aspirations.

“As far as the economic ministry is concerned, we do not see ringgit fluctuations beginning to have a negative impact on our long-term restructuring,” Rafizi stated.

Rafizi emphasised that the key to this endeavour is enacting structural changes in the economy to establish one of the world's premier startup ecosystems in Malaysia.

This comes ahead of the KL20 Summit next week which aims to make Malaysia among the top 20 global startup hubs by 2030.

Additionally, the nation's sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will spearhead initiatives to expand Malaysia's digital and technology industry by establishing a “super fund” to invest in startups with other sovereign funds.

The government anticipates this will draw venture capital firms to the nation.

“Malaysia should be much better as a vibrant scene for startups, for technology and digital sectors, given all our inherent advantages,” he said.