Fuel debate quite a disappointmentPosted: July 16, 2008
At least, that’s what it was for me. I missed some parts of the arguments, my Internet wasn’t getting a very clear line, but I think I got most of what was being said by both Anwar and Shabery Cheek.
For the most part, Shabery Cheek was giving me a history lesson. It got quite personal at certain points too, bringing the discussion back to when Anwar was Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. There wasn’t exactly anything new from Shabery Cheek. Most of what he explained on the issue of fuel price was already explained in detail in the newspapers and things like that.
As for Anwar’s part. Most of it was also nothing new, if you’ve been following his speeches. The one new thing, perhaps, was that he suggested that the government renegotiate their contracts with the IPPs. Energy capacity reserve, according to Anwar (and not denied by Shabery) in Malaysia is at about 400%. He says that this can be reduced to 200%, as currently the IPPs are earning billions of ringgit.
My lack of knowledge in economics is something quite felt at the moment.
But that was the one suggestion from Anwar to the government that I have not heard before. And according to Anwar’s calculations, this reducing of capacity reserve is enough to save the government RM2 billion at the very least.
If this is true, this has to brought up and looked into.
Shabery made one point, of which I have been aware of. Anwar talked about reducing the price of fuel before the price was hiked up to RM2.70. It was previously RM1.92.
Anwar says that if PR forms the government today, the price of fuel will come down by 50 cents tomorrow, meaning from RM2.70 to RM2.20.
Sure, there’s a huge difference. But if it was possible for Anwar to bring the price down before the elections and current price, then surely the reduction in fuel price should be much more than 50 cents?
Among the points discussed (and yet to be resolved, I think..):
- Malaysia being a nett exporter of petroleum. Isn’t Malaysia making more money out of the global increase?
- Now that the government has saved 13 billion ringgit in subsidies by raising the fuel price, what is being done with that money to improve the transportation system? (Shabery sort of dodged this question, I think.)
- Petronas expects that Malaysia will become a nett importer of petroleum in the next 5-10 years. What will happen then? If Anwar brings the price down today, will he then hike it up secara mendadak when we no longer have petroleum? (Anwar says that Petronas is continuing its search for more reserves, and that we shouldn’t be scared of going dry. But I think it’s best to be careful with what we have. Waste not, want not.)
- Why not suggest what can be done to help the people, instead of concentrating of forming the government? (This directed at Anwar, of course.)
- Anwar to Shabery: Clean up the goverment, rid it of kebocoran and corruption. Improve the management of funds.
Personally, I was expecting a lot more from the debate. I think Shabery and the other person he had with him to ask a question to Anwar were both being a bit too personal, attacking on issues other than the one being debated, and talking about the past.
I’ll wait and see what they write in the news tomorrow.