KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s move to abolish the 2 kilogrammes (kg), 3kg and 5kg bottled palm cooking oil subsidy is seen as a measure to ensure that more direct and targeted assistance can be channelled to eligible recipients.
Bank Islam Malaysia Economic Analyst Dr Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the government's decision to maintain the palm cooking oil subsidy in plastic packaging and abolish the bottled packaging palm cooking oil subsidy could benefit vulnerable groups such as B40 in obtaining government-provided subsidised essential goods.
“The government also announced an additional fund of RM630 million to recipients of Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) which will benefit 8.6 million people in the country, so they can reduce one-third of the burden in buying monthly necessities,“ he said when contacted Bernama.
Nevertheless, the recipients of the aid need to plan their expenditures so that they can benefit from the aid.
Putra Business School (UPM) Economic Analyst Assoc Prof Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said the government's move was a measure to eliminate the misappropriation and smuggling of cooking oil.
“The government abolished the subsidy because the bottled cooking oil is easy to smuggle and misappropriated by certain parties because of its durable packaging compared to plastic palm oil which is sold in small quantities and easily broken,“ he said.
In the meantime, he said the government should guarantee a supply of plastic cooking oil of 60,000 metric tonnes a month that can be sold by traders, thus making it easier for consumers to buy the product.
“Consumers should play a role in reporting to the authorities if there are shops that claim of having no stocks of cooking oil while traders need to have integrity in selling the products to the B40 group,“ he said.
Asked about the effective mechanism that the government can use to channel assistance to the group, Ahmed Razman said it could be done in the form of e-vouchers to ensure the transactions are done more transparently.
“When we want to ensure that the aid and subsidies reach the people, the use of existing technology can help. For example, we have the MySejahtera application, and in the past, the government has introduced book vouchers where the vouchers can only be used to buy books.
“So we can combine the mechanisms to track and provide assistance in a more targeted manner and when they go to the store they can buy palm cooking oil in packets or other necessities,“ he said.-Bernama