Friday, December 29, 2006

More 'talented' ministers - less for our pockets

A week ago I posted Our talented ministers & officials, where we noted Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal warning traders not to raise prices of goods even though road toll charges will be shooting up by as high as 60% on 01 January.

His reason? He couldn't see any reason for such a price hike (with those exceptions for government approved road toll charges, fuel, electricity, water, etc), because the increase in the toll rates would be less than 1% of transportation and production costs, and that many of the routes used to transport goods do not pass tolled roads, but where they do, the toll charges are very very very small.

It would appear that Humpty Dumpty seemed to share his brilliant assessment such toll charges won’t affect the wonderful cost equilibrium we Malaysians are enjoying (except of course for toll charges, fuel, electricity, water, etc).

In fact, Humpty has dismissed requests by transportation companies for toll rates to be lowered.

Jeez, 'lower' toll charges when they have been set to go up? Bloody dreamers!

Now, what was the day dreamers’ concern?

Well, from March 2008 heavy vehicles entering Singapore will be restricted from using the Causeway. Instead, they have to use the Second Link, which unfortunately is further away and (coincidentally) have higher toll rates.

Lorries weighing more than 16 tonnes will have to pay RM160 for a return trip, which is a more than a humongous 600% increase (yes, 600%, not 60%) compared with the current RM22 for a return trip via the Causeway.

Look, it's only a mere 600% hike in toll charges plus the trifling matter of some extra 50 km distance to the 2nd Link.
Jeez, what are those bloody transport companies whinging about?

Humpty said the public did not realise or believe that the rates had already been subsidised by the Government, as ‘invisible help’.

Hmmm, ‘invisible help’ eh? Maybe it’s so ‘invisible’ that not only one can’t see it but one can’t even feel or enjoy it as well!

Humpty was so indignant with the incessant whinging and whining (by the transportees) that he said sarcastically: “I suggested to the Government that we stand by the toll gate and give people 50 sen each time they pass, then they will think that we are a good government.”

There you have him with his firm but 'brilliant' pronouncements, another of those ‘talented’ minister we spoke of in my previous posting.

When contacted, Pan Malaysian Lorry Operators Association president Er Sui See said he was not too concerned about having to pay higher toll charges.

What? No whinging and whining? Amazing!
Maybe ministers Humpty and Mohd Shafie Apdal are correct after all, that increased toll charges will have no adverse impact on the rakyat's pockets?

But wait, I detected a cynical Chinese businessman-speak in Mr Er’s ‘no worries’.

Yes, in fact he informed us that around 2000 lorries, each carrying 20 tonnes, ply the Singapore route daily, and the companies are by now all pissed off with having to ask for toll reductions - well, actually he said ‘fed-up’ but I reckon ’pissed off’ would be a more accurate expression of their sentiments.

Er said that to cope with the higher toll, lorry operators would pass on the extra costs to customers, once the ruling (to stop using the Causeway and switch to the Second Link) comes into effect. He warned clients not to be surprised to see toll fees included in their transportation bill.

He explained: “Yes, the toll at the Second Link is very high. And you have to consider the extra 50 km, as it is further away from the Causeway. But nothing to worry about [i.e. for the transport companies, not us]. We will just pass the costs onto the customers. So we just raise the price. It is much simpler.”

Damn it, this is unacceptable because the public will end up paying more for goods, though admittedly it is sound business practice, that is, if the transport companies are not to suffer economic losses.

Jeez, can’t they operate like …..... er ... what? No public financial bail-outs for them?

Dei, bloody stop splitting economic hairs and don’t contradict our talented and brilliant ministers’ assurances.

As I mentioned in Our talented ministers & officials:

With so many brilliant and talented ministers and officals, I could cry at our most abundant misfortune and banelessings. If I were religious, I would say God has been unkind, indeed unfair to us .. er ... others for bestowing us with a monopoly of such stupidendous leadership.

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