The recent price hike of RON 95 petrol to RM2.10 a litre, diesel to RM2.00 a litre and RON 97 petrol to RM2.85 a litre has made ballooning fuel subsidies and the nation’s fiscal deficit hot discussion topics. Now along comes another issue to ponder – that of petrol smuggling.
Last Friday, Kedah’s Anti-Smuggling Unit (UPP) foiled an attempt to illegally transport 27,300 litres of subsidised diesel worth RM54,600 by lorry to Thailand, according to a New Straits Times report.
The report says a UPP enforcement team detained a 48-year-old suspect at a roadblock at the Tandop toll plaza in the early hours of the morning, upon discovering that he was en route from Penang to store the diesel in a storage unit.
In a similar vein, an earlier NST report told of Kuala Perlis UPP foiling a 34-year-old man’s attempt to smuggle 2,400 litres of subsidised diesel worth RM4,800, also to Thailand.
The UPP team spotted the suspect filling up at a petrol station in Jejawi, tailed him and flagged him down. Upon inspection, his lorry was found to have a modified tank that could hold up to 3,200 litres of diesel.
Petroleum Dealers’ Association of Malaysia (PDAM) president Datuk Hashim Othman has said that further increases in the price of RON 95 petrol would help efforts to put an end to such cases of petrol smuggling, according to a Bernama report.
“The smuggling of petrol and diesel was due to fuel being cheaper in Malaysia,” he told the national news agency, adding that the subsidy would ease the burden of the lower- and middle-income groups so that they would be able to adapt to rising prices.
The PDAM president also lamented, according to Bernama, that in spite of the government’s efforts to ease the burden of the people through subsidies, some people were taking advantage of them.
PDAM recently proposed that the savings garnered from the fuel subsidy cuts be used by the government to abolish road tax and reduce the insurance rate for cars with an engine displacement of under 2,000 cc.