SERDANG, Nov 22 – The savings from fuel subsidies following the introduction of the managed float system can be used for socio-economic development to benefit the people, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said. Citing the recent drop in the price of RON97 petrol as an example, Najib said the managed float system would enable the government to make fuel-price adjustments quicker to help the rakyat.
He said the savings from fuel subsidies could be channelled to other sectors, such as agriculture, education and health, that would directly benefit the people. “With savings of between RM10 billion (to) RM20 billion annually, we can for sure increase allocations to those sectors deemed important in the context of the country’s socio-economic development.
“The savings can be allocated especially to help farmers and fishermen in rural areas who have low incomes,” he told a press conference after opening the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism Show (MAHA) 2014 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang, here, yesterday. Najib said the managed float system could be reviewed monthly to enable Malaysians to adapt to international fuel prices.
“They (Malaysians) have to understand that the fuel price is not controlled by the government but follows global prices. Therefore, do not blame the government.” He said although fuel subsidies would be stopped as of Dec 1, the government still subsidised (the cost of living of) the people through other incentives.
“We will continue assisting the people via the 1Malaysia People’s Aid, 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme, 1Malaysia Book Voucher, 1Malaysia Clinic and 1Malaysia People’s Shop. “It is important to help the target group. However, foreigners and those in the high income group are benefiting more from fuel subsidies.”
The prime minister assured that the government would take stern action against traders who profiteered by selling items above the ceiling price. “Daily necessities are controlled price items. This can help to lessen the burden of the rakyat. “The people also have to be smart consumers. Do not buy from shops that sell at unacceptable prices. This will deter traders from increasing the price indiscriminately.”
Earlier, in his speech, Najib urged farmers and fishermen to be bold to succeed as entrepreneurs given the RM6 billion allocation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, under the 2015 Budget. “You have to be innovative, be technology-driven and establish a global supply chain so as to be a competitive major player in the industry.”
Najib cited how a Singaporean hotelier he had met related his success story of being able to sell 18 million roti canai and paratha (an Indian flat bread) a day, while another Singapore trader was able to sell the musang king durian at RM60 a kilogramme even though these were not their authentic home products. “Likewise, rubber and palm oil are not originally Malaysian products but were imported from Brazil and Africa. But we were able to produce them as major world commodities.”
Najib urged youths not to shun the agriculture and fisheries industry as being dirty, difficult and dangerous vocations as it could be rewarding if the right principles were applied. He said youths need not take the easy way out by working in fast-food outlets and mamak restaurants. “Just look at the technological breakthrough of hatching 30,000 lobsters, as compared with the natural wildlife scenario where only two or three out of the half a million fertilised eggs survive to be adult lobsters.
“Entrepreneurs in Sandakan and Semporna have latched on to this latest technology of hatching that can benefit 20,000 fishermen who can easily earn RM5,000 a month.” Likewise, Najib added, Ulu Jerantut in Pahang was toying with the idea of harvesting caviar from breeding sturgeon fish to meet the depletion of the produce in the Caspian Sea, while Sarawak was looking at aggressively farming ikan tempurau (a fresh water fish).
“Someday, people in the Western world will be able to eat lobsters and caviar made famous by Malaysia,” he said, adding that even Chile was able to emerge as the world’s second largest exporter of salmon although the fish was a well-known produce from Norway. Najib cautioned that without technological innovation in food production, the world could face famine by 2050 as the global population was projected to reach 9.6 billion. MAHA 2014, themed “Agrotechnology — Catalyst for Transformation”, will be held until Nov 30.