KUALA LUMPUR: Johari Ghani (BN-Titiwangsa) today outlined three key priorities for the unity government to ensure the success of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in its remaining two-and-a-half years.
Johari said one of the three priorities involves transitioning from blanket subsidies to targeted subsidies.
“Although these (blanket) subsidies help reduce the cost of living, they also come with negative consequences, such as financial losses,” he said when debating the 12MP mid-term review in the Dewan Rakyat.
“For example, earlier this year, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the country incurred a loss of RM10 billion from diesel subsidies due to misappropriation and smuggling. This sum could have been directed to those in need.”
Johari also highlighted the regressive nature of blanket subsidies, saying they disproportionately benefit higher-income groups.
He said data from Bank Negara Malaysia showed that the T20 income group receives 42% of petrol subsidies, while the B40 income group receives a mere 14%.
The former second finance minister also urged the government to prioritise the efficient utilisation of funds allocated in the 2023 budget, as only RM43.9 billion has been spent to date.
“We are running out of time. We must utilise all approved budget allocations. Payments must be made promptly.
“If a project does not contribute significantly to the economy, it should be revised. We should also identify projects that have a multiplier effect,” he said.
Another area of focus for the government, according to Johari, was food security in light of the escalating costs of food, especially rice.
He said Malaysia can draw inspiration from Vietnam’s remarkable success story, where the nation transitioned from being a rice importer to becoming one of the world’s leading rice exporters.
“With the help of Mardi, a budget allocation and significant involvement from large-scale private companies, Malaysia can expand its rice exports,” he said, referring to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
Source : FMT