Fuel-Wallet GaugeKeep yourselves free at 9pm tonight as there will be a debate between de facto PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and BN Government Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek called “Form the government today, reduce fuel prices tomorrow”. The political debate mainly focuses on the ability for the government to sustain high fuel subsidies as an oil-producing country amidst sky-high crude oil prices.

Each debater will be allowed one person each on the panel. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Chairman Datuk Johan Jaahar will be the moderator.

We will be able to hear in full why the government refuses to (and cannot) use Petronas profits to subsidise fuel. Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek hopes the debate will be able to provide a clear picture. Despite the hiked fuel prices, the government claims that the cost of fuel subsidies from January to June 2008 were higher than the entire year of 2007. RM4.006 billion was spent on petrol subsidies, RM5.056 billion for diesel subsidies and RM1.1188 billion for LPG subsidies. This amounted to RM10.25 billion, higher than 2007’s RM8.77 billion amount.

You can watch the live telecast of the debate on terrestrial TV9, Astro’s channel 119 (TV9), 501 (Astro Awani) and 502 (Bernama TV). TV9 can be watched online at IP Global TV.

UPDATES: 9:20PM – Anwar says if the Pakatan Rakyat forms a new government, he will drop the price of fuel by 50 sen, which would be RM2.20 per litre rather than current levels of RM2.70 per litre.

9:31PM – Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek decided to poke at the oppositions’s supposed street demonstrations. He must have forgot that massive traffic jams were caused all over the Klang Valley by the police being mobilised to set up road blocks randomly because of an SMS to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar alleging that there was going to be an illegal mass rally outside the Parliament. The same alleged rally that did not exist, did not happen and was denied by the opposition. I personally went through three blocks and they were just obstructing traffic and waving people on after they have been inconvenienced for no reason. We all know fuel efficiency is worst at slow city speeds. How much fuel and time were wasted during these jams?

9.36PM – Anwar says the petrol price will be reduced NOT by taking more of Petronas money but from existing government income including existing taxes from Petronas and other incomes, but by tightening the government’s spending which he describes as “bocor”. He says RM2 billion ringgit yearly can be saved by reducing TNB excess standby capacity from 40% to 20%, a situation which only benefits the IPPs which also benefit from getting subsidised gas.

View recordings of the debate in 6 parts after the jump.