Friday, April 28, 2006

Where are your RM4.4 billion subsidy savings?

Oh, BTW, do you still remember the public anger over the price hike?

Do you still remember what the government, in particular PM Abdullah Badawi, promise us what he would do with the savings of RM4.4 billion, to help us cope with the fuel price increase?

Do you still remember his promise to invest the money into improved public transportation so that we could save on travelling?

Do you still remember the outpouring of public suggestions on how and where his government ought to invest into the promised transportation infrastructure?

Do you then remember subsequently how thin-skinned PM Abdullah Badawi told us to stop questioning him about he would use the RM4.4 billion, and to trust his decision and actions?

Well, I have news for all of you!

PM Abdullah Badawi has juts informed us the RM4.4 billion gain from the cut in the fuel subsidy has been wiped out by higher global oil prices. Yes, the multi-billion savings is ALL GONE!

So what’s his plan to improve the transportation infrastructure to help us enjoy savings on transportation and general travelling?

Well, he has just announced that improvements to the country’s public transportation system will now have to be done via private finance initiatives (PFI) because the RM4.4 billion is no more. He stated: “PFIs will be used to improve public transport as this way has a better chance.”

As before, under a PFI, the Government will pay rent (that means you!) for the use of a facility or project over a long period of time. With the usual guarantee of rental income from the Government, banks will be more willing to bankroll such projects taken up by the private sector. And of course, cronies will reap heaps too!

And isn’t it just wonderful that under his Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), his government had identified RM20 billion worth of PFI projects to go along with the RM200 billion it would spend. Lots of lollies.

But we all know such new roads (or rails) mean more road tolls (or rail tickets). So PM Abdullah Badawi’s promise to help us save on transportation cost is to provide us with more pay-toll booths.

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