Pakatan first, BN minister says to footing fuel bill challenge

(MM) – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders should offer to pay for their own fuel consumption before telling Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers to do the same, Umno’s Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.

The tourism and culture minister advised his political foes to lead by example before making such “idiotic” suggestions after the federal government raised petrol and diesel prices at the pumps this morning.

“I want him to tell Selangor mentri besar and his excos, the chief minister of Penang, and the Kelantan mentri besar to pay using their own money as well,” Nazri (picture) told reporters here, referring to PKR’s Rafizi Ramli who floated the idea earlier today.

“They should start first, do not just talk. We were not the ones who suggested this, because we serve the people,” he added.

PKR, DAP and PAS have formed a loose pact to counter the 13-party BN coalition and are in control of three out of 13 states nationwide, that is in Selangor, Penang and Kelantan.

Rafizi had suggested Cabinet members including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should now pay for their own fuel since the government had claimed that undeserving parties were enjoying the benefits of a blanket fuel subsidy that it cut today.

The demand was made in protest against Najib’s announcement to cut RON95 and diesel subsidies by 20 sen a litre yesterday, in a move the opposition lawmaker claimed would burden most Malaysians.

Rafizi had also blamed the fuel subsidy cut on the prime minister’s weak financial policies.

The PKR strategy director had also questioned why Najib chose not to do away with hefty subsidies given to private companies such as independent power producers, which is estimated to be around RM13 billion, and instead “took the easy way out” by slashing public fuel subsidies.

The pump price for RON95 petrol was increased to RM2.10 per litre and diesel RM2.00 today, up from RM1.90 and RM1.80 respectively.

In his announcement yesterday, Najib said a 20 sen per litre reduction on the RON95 fuel and diesel would save the government RM3.3 billion beginning next year, bringing the total amount of fuel subsidies to RM24.8 billion per annum.

Anticipating a public backlash, the Najib administration said it will announce measures to ease the burden of the lower and middle-income group in the 2014 Budget, including the possibility of increasing the amount of the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) cash handout from the current RM500.