‘We could build 40 varsities with fuel subsidy’

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CYBERJAYA: The government could build 40 new universities with the amount it spends on fuel subsidies annually, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said.

He defended the recent subsidy cut that raised the price of RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen per litre each, and said fuel subsidies were “stupid” if they benefited everyone across the board.

Ahmad Maslan said the RM2 billion spent monthly by the government on fuel subsidies could be put to better use.

“With RM24 billion spent annually on fuel subsidies, the money could be used to build more than 40 new universities in Malaysia,” Ahmad Maslan said. “The rakyat may not realise this, but the Barisan Nasional-led government in Putrajaya is one of the best in the world.”

He was addressing senior staff at the Inland Revenue Board headquarters in Cyberjaya yesterday, launching the Budget 2015 briefing.

Giving another example, Ahmad Maslan said the RM2 billion spent monthly on fuel subsidies could build “2,000 fully air-conditioned that Putrajaya had to correct, he said.

“That means luxury car drivers enjoy 10 times the subsidy compared with a motorcyclist. Putrajaya is trying to correct an injustice,” Ahmad Maslan said.

“If Putrajaya were to continue with the present subsidy scheme, then even tycoons such as Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan and Tan Sri Robert Kuok would benefit.

“Putrajaya is trying to leverage the subsidies to ensure that it only benefits the needy and low-income groups instead of allowing everyone to benefit from it.

“Giving subsidies to the rich and elite is a stupid principle. So do not be angry about the recent hike in fuel prices,” he told some 200 civil servants at the briefing. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 15, 2014.