Fuel Wallet GaugeThis is the silver lining in a dark cloud. According to Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, we will know the details of the new fuel subsidy mechanism in March 2010, ahead of the system’s expected implementation date in May 2010.

Although most of us dread the thought of having to pay more for fuel soon (and with more hassle as well), at least now we will have a one to two month head start to planning our finances instead of only knowing at the very last minute.

Datuk Seri Ismail declined to provide any details (in an interview with NST), but he did say that it would make people happy. I am hoping that this could indicate a fair system that would not trouble the low to middle class income earners. Let’s hope the government has not been out of touch with the reality of things on the streets in formulating this new subsidy system, otherwise it will indeed be a bitter year of the tiger for us.

What we know so far is that foreigners (even those who consider Malaysia their home and work here with local and not typical expat level of salary) would definitely not get any subsidies because they will not hold the MyKad, which is said to be a key element in how the system works. Your MyKad will identify you (a newspaper report has even cited you need a thumbprint scan like at the airport with your passport or with your MyKad at the bank) and how much of subsidies you are eligible to get.

The system is said to be managed by Maybank, the first time this has been revealed in the newspapers, though I’ve heard rumors of this for months. A pilot project to test out the system will go live sometime in end March or perhaps April – a rather short test time for a large scale nationwide roll-out of a new system!

You could get between 200 to 300 litres of subsidies per month depending on various factors such as socio-economic and the dreaded engine capacity factor. The threshold is said to be 2,000cc – and I would be able to get pass this number if not for the 2.5 litre old E30 which I purchased for just over RM10k recently. This probably means zero subsidy for me. Company cars are said to be not eligible for the subsidy. Once you run out of subsidised litres per month, you will have to pay full price, which is expected to be RM2.10 per litre for RON95.

Even for those who qualify for the litre amount of subsidies that they need every month, they will not likely to continue paying the RM1.80 per litre for RON95 and RM2.05 per litre for RON97 we are paying right now. Sin Chew Daily reports that the government is expected to announce a new subsidized price of RM1.90 per litre for RON95 and RM1.80 per litre for Euro 2M diesel. Nothing was said about RON97, so that can either be a very good thing or a very bad thing! But I have a feeling there will not be any ‘subsidised’ option for RON97. If unsubsidised RON95 is RM2.10 per litre, unsubsidised RON97 might touch RM2.50 per litre!

Whatever it is, we’ll know the full details next month, if the minister keeps true to his word, and hopefully we’ll be happy. The March announcement date may coincide with a ‘registration exercise’ as mentioned in newspaper reports previously.

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