THE NOT SO GREAT OIL DEBATE- CONTINUATION.
I wish to apologise. I am a little slow in the mind. I have to study and listen and listen again to the recordings of the debate. After that, I feel comfortable giving my two cents worth of opinion.
We were not told how Anwar derived the figure of RM 5 billion. Is it manna from heaven? Is it the cost of financing the subsidy that Anwar proposes to give back to the public? Or is it the 50 sen multiplied by some quantity? I am not sure. So we have to accept the figure RM 5 billion as being a sum that Anwar proposes to give back the public. In what form we don’t know.
Yes Anwar talked about reducing the price of oil before the elections. it was at that time RM 1.92 per litre. This was the price of petrol right? During the debate, Anwar talked about reducing the price, initially at 50 sen. Presumably it is the reduction quantum from the current price i.e. RM 2.70 per litre. So Shabery cheek did himself a disservice by referring to a wrong supposition. Anwar didn’t say he wanted to cut off 50 sen from RM1.92.
Maybe the RM 5 billion is the amount the government will lose should it reduces the price of petrol by 50 sen. Hence Anwar is forwarding an idea as to how to get back the5 billion to the government while maintaining the price at RM 1.92. Very clever- it shows that Anwar has the finances of the government close to heart.
What Anwar was suggesting that the government can get more revenue by avoiding wastage such as paying the IPPs for their stand-by capacity. Which stands now at 40% and admittedly is excessively high. By reducing it to 20%, the government can save RM2 billion and instead of paying to the IPPs, can give back to the rakyat.
The second round question was a little bit absurd to me I think. Dato Johan seemed to suggest that giving subsidies would also entail giving the other oil majors such as Shell and Esso the same treatment. Of course it would, because not everyone buys their petroleum from Petronas. You mean we have to buy only from Petronas to enjoy the subsidy and that if we buy from non Petronas service stations, we should be penalised? Subsidies have to be given to all retail stations because they get passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. That is why the price is the same all over. Hello brother- all petroleum are the same. Its only brand loyalty and affinity exploited by creative marketing that invite particular loyalty and clientele.
We can give the money directly to the public and have them elect what to do. Of course we can, but then Shabery cheek you will have to allow the oil companies offer petroleum prices according to market value. Petroleum no longer becomes a protected price item.
It’s no use haranguing the earlier oil majors who exploited our petroleum resources earlier. Shell has been here for 100 years and are we to denounce them just because they bored the first oil well in Miri? You mean we had to wait until the PDA in 1974 which saw the creation of Petronas to enjoy our petroleum? What has the creation of PETRONAS alongside with Shell and Esso got to do with the substance of the debate?
The question from Nordin Kardi was most perplexing. What has the reduction of price got to do with whether Malaysia is an oil exporting country or not? If we were a net importer, a fortiori, the government will need to find ways to make the price of petroleum palatable to the public. Because we are currently a net exporter, it makes the reduction if executed, more tolerable. We can finance the reduction by savings and from the funds which Petronas gives back to the government as dividends.
I am not going to analyse round by round. The debate is NOT SO GREAT after all. Both were looking to score points and both did not answer most of the questions directly. Only in the court of public opinion, Anwar is seen siding with the rakyat. By resorting to personal attacks on Anwar, Shabery showed he was not sufficiently prepared for the debate.
The bigger picture and the essential thrust of the whole debate should have been, on whose side are we with? On the side of the rakyat or on the side of the privileged group?. The rakyat wants the price of petroleum and other essentials lowered. How do we achieve that?
In my opinion, Shabery did not even have to dignify Anwar’s strategy to alleviate the sufferings of the rakyat by way of reducing the price of petroleum. It is only one of the many remedial steps.
Anwar does not own the monopoly over the capability of giving the greatest good to the people. Shabery should have come up with a suggestion of offering better ways of alleviating the suffering of the people. Or IF he had wanted to demolish Anwar, he should have shown us the watching public, why the idea of reducing the price of petroleum by 50 sen is untenable.
After reviewing, I still think Anwar got the better of Shabery in that debate.