Monday, August 4, 2008

Khairy responds to Pakatan’s allegations

KUALA LUMPUR: It is not true that there was no safety net for the poor in facing the effects of the recent fuel hike and subsidy restructuring, said Umno Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin.

The restructuring in June, when the Government reduced the fuel subsidy and provided rebate of RM625 for car owners with engine capacity of 2,000cc and below, and RM150 to motorcyclists with 250cc engines and below, saved the Government RM14bil, of which RM6.7bil was used for food security and subsidy, and RM6bil for vehicle fuel rebate, he said.

“To say that nothing has been done to ease the burden of the people is not accurate,” said Khairy, responding to Pakatan Rakyat’s allegation that there was no comprehensive plan to cushion the impact of the fuel price rise on the low-income group.

On the lack of efficient public transport in light of the subsidy restructuring, he said there must first be a regulator for public transport run by several parties, to ensure that they also took on less popular routes.

When asked if efforts should have been put in place before increasing the restructuring, he agreed.

“Something needs to be done urgently. I don’t know why it was not done before that,” he said yesterday at the Young YBs Forum: Subsidies – A Question of Necessity or “Tongkat” Culture?

Earlier in the forum, PJ Utara MP Tony Pua said complementary policies to cushion the fuel hike to enable the poor to meet challenges and a viable public transport system were lacking.

Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said Malaysia should emulate Norway in investing oil money in long-term funds to secure welfare measures.

On that note, Khairy said money from Petronas could not go to trust funds because it was needed for development, unlike Norway, which was already developed.

On the impending Permatang Pauh by-election, Khairy said that contest with PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be stiff but Umno’s machinery was ready.

“It will be a tough fight and we may be the underdog but we will not give in easily to him,” he said.

Pua said DAP hoped for Anwar’s victory, and his return to Parliament and become Opposition Leader.

“We believe he has the skills and calibre to lead the Opposition to greater heights,” he said.

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