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Targeted subsidies: A challenging but necessary step, says former second finance minister

KUALA LUMPUR: A former minister today underscored the crucial need for implementing targeted subsidies, despite the associated implementation challenges, to ensure that assistance reaches the intended groups in the country.

Former Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said this in response to concerns about government subsidies, including those for fuel and food, which are projected to cost the country RM81 billion this year.

“(Implementing) targeted subsidies is not an easy (task), but it needs to be done since the amount of subsidies given by the government in a year have reached RM81 billion.

“For example, the government has allocated RM50 billion to subsidize fuel for the public, yet only 14 per cent of people in the B40 income group have benefited from it.

“Therefore, the government needs to find a way to address this matter,” he told reporters after attending the launching of White N Black Aquasports by My Legacy Entertainment Sdn Bhd here today.

Present were Datuk Kamarulzaman Mat Salleh and My Legacy Entertainment Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Mohd Firdaus Jamaluddin.

Johari was asked to comment on the criticism faced by the unity government to implement targeted subsidies so that the assistance would benefit the needed and mitigate the financial pressure against the federal administration.

“It is up to the government to find the best mechanism (on the implementation of targeted subsidies),” said Johari.

During a pre-budget analysis by TV3 early this month, Johari had proposed the federal government to consider direct cash transfer as a method to implement targeted subsidies.

“Cash transfer could be one of the ways (to implement targeted subsidies). Like I said before, it is up to the government to find the best mechanism for the implementation of targeted subsidies,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim earlier this month said subsidies given by the government to the people throughout the country including electricity, fuel and food is expected to exceed RM81 billion this year.


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