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Letter Challenging Datuk Mustapa Mohamed To An Open Public Debate How The Fuel Price Increases And Refusal Of Petronas To Distribute Its RM35.5 Billion In Profits Amongst Malaysians Benefit The Nation.
by Lim Guan Eng
I shall be sending a letter issuing a challenge to Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed to an open public debate on how the fuel price increases and Petronasí refusal to distribute its RM 35.5 billion profits amongst Malaysians can benefit the nation.
Datuk Mustapa is leading the argument that the government can no longer afford subsidies of RM 16.8 billion in subsidies and taxes forgone for 2005 should fuel prices be maintained. Datuk Mustapaís argument of rising fuel prices confuses the two issues of the role of Petronas and how national finances are managed.
Both issues are one and the same, namely exercised for the benefit of the people. Corruption, financial malpractices and abuse of power have eaten much of the RM 246 billion given by Petronas to the government since its formation 30 years ago. It is illogical for Datuk Mustapa to argue that national interest requires fuel prices to be increased. How can national interest be served when the peopleís interest are not served?
Let us examine some facts. The government states that after the three fuel price increases this year, the government still have to bear taxes forgone and subsidies of RM 14.5 billion. This represents a savings of a mere RM 2.3 billion compared to the previous RM 16.8 billion losses if fuel prices were not increased.
What is RM 2.3 billion when compared to the RM 31.2 billion given to the government by Petronas? RM 2.3 billion is insignificant when compared with the profits of RM 35.5 billion earned by Petronas, after giving RM 31.2 billon to the government. DAP can not understand why the government can not afford less than 10% of the payments given by Petronas or why Petronas can not afford to bear less than 10% of its profits.
At the same time, Petronas has earned RM 164.8 billion during the same period. Can Datuk Mustapa answer how have the people benefited directly from the RM 164.8 billion in net profits earned by Petronas?
The time has come for the people to benefit directly from Petronas profits. If the government wants to end fuel subsidies then, it should distribute Petronas profits to the people. DAP has proposed a win-win situation where the government can raise petrol prices if Petronas gives every Malaysian RM 1,000. Even after giving RM 1,000 each, Petronas still has a remainder RM 10.5 billion. If RM 10.5 billion is not enough to cover Petronas needs, the government can always let Petronas use some of the RM 31.2 billion paid by Petronas.
There has been no concrete plan by the government to help the poor face rising fuel prices and inflation, which is now the highest in 6 years at 3.2% in June 2005. Public interest requires a full discussion of the reason behind this increase and how the people, especially the interests of the poor are protected.
DAP hopes that Datuk Mustapa can debate directly on why the fuel increase is necessary and at the same time give reasons behind the governmentís refusal to distribute Petronasí profits to the people. As this issue if of national importance, DAP is willing to let Datuk Mustapa decide the time and place as I am willing to debate Datuk Mustapa anytime, anyplace, anywhere