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Amidst the commotion surrounding the proposed petrol subsidy rationalisation mechanism, an academic has opined that the government should consider increasing the road tax for luxury cars instead of making high-income groups pay market prices for RON 95 petrol, Bernama reports.

All consumers should be allowed to purchase subsidised petrol, and be free to choose between RON 95 and RON 97, irrespective of the car they drive, said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak business and economics faculty lecturer Prof Dr Shazali Abu Mansor.

“There may be low-income earners who want to use RON 97 petrol and there may also be those in the high-income group who want to use RON 95 – it all depends on the requirements of the car they drive,” Shazali told the national news agency, adding that there isn’t yet a proper mechanism to determine motorists’ actual incomes.

“The cost of living has gone up and people – in all income groups – are already tightening their belts. It’s not fair to burden them further. What I’m saying is increase the road tax (for luxury cars), but let them (the owners) continue using subsidised RON 95 petrol,” he said.

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This is a variation of that suggested by Raub MP Datuk Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz earlier in the month. In his personal blog, he proposed that a petrol and diesel fuel tax be imposed on higher capacity vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) said that the government should note that people in all income categories have been affected by the rising cost of living, and as such have been exhibiting similar expenditure patterns.

“We can find out how much people earn, but how do we estimate their expenditure? For example, a person who earns RM5,000 a month and has one child and another person who earns RM10,000, but has five children, have different levels of expenditure,” said its vice president Siti Rahayu Zakaria.

She added that if the government wants to come up with a card for people to purchase subsidised petrol, it should not only take household income into consideration but also total expenditure.

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Earlier, it was reported that the structure and mechanism of the new petrol subsidy rationalisation programme for RON 95 has not been finalised – the subject is still being studied and final details of the new system are not expected to be revealed until next year.

A triple-pricing system for RON 95 is set come into place when the programme begins in June next year – yesterday, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah revealed that those earning below RM5,000 per month will receive full subsidy, while those earning between RM5,000 and RM10,000 will get partial subsidy. Those earning five figures a month will have to pay the full market price.

On October 2, the price of RON 95 petrol and diesel went up by 20 sen to RM2.30 and RM2.20 per litre respectively. The actual market price at that point was RM2.58 per litre for RON 95 and RM2.52 for diesel, translating to a current subsidy rate of 28 sen per litre for petrol and 32 sen for diesel.