Sunday, June 8, 2008


Get true picture: PM
Abdullah hopes people will receive correct information on global fuel price hike


Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday he hoped the people will get the correct information on the global fuel price hike phenomenon so that they can really understand what the country was facing. “Each and everyone of us has a role and responsibility in facing these trying times. As such, let’s together face this challenge with resilience for the greater good of the nation and our future generations,” he said. The Prime Minister said this in his speech at an investiture held in conjunction with the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s birthday at Istana Negara here. “The Government has held out for as long as possible to protect the people from fuel price hikes but the price of oil has risen steeply and rapidly in the world market,” he said. Abdullah said in January2007, the price of crude oil in the world market was only around US$50 (USD1=RM3.29) a barrel. Now, 18 months later, it had risen to almost US$130 a barrel and analysts were predicting it would continue to rise up to US$200 a barrel, he said. “In this situation, the fact is Government expenditure will not be able to meet the difference between controlled selling prices and of that in the world market despite higher revenues gained by Petronas,” stressed Abdullah, adding that this was a challenge that all Malaysians had to bear. The Prime Minister also said the Government was aware that the fuel price hikes had caused uneasiness and worry among the population. The Government would do all it could to alleviate the burden experienced by the people, especially by those in the lower income group and among the steps to be taken was increasing direct aid to them apart from assuring prices of essential goods remained affordable, he said. He said the Government would also take steps to save on public sector expenditure, increase the range of goods under the price control scheme, improve public transportation and postpone projects that are not urgently needed. Nonetheless, he said many challenges still needed to be tackled to ensure the nation continued to move forward. He said among these was the slowdown in world economic growth as a result of a stagnant United States economy, which had spill-over effects on Europe besides emerging and developing economies. In spite of all these, Abdullah said the national economy experienced encouraging growth last year proving the nation was on the right track. “Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth last year was at 6.3 per cent despite a challenging world environment. “All sectors recorded strong growth in particular the services, construction, mining and plantation sectors. Consumer demand growth also was healthy at 11.8 percent,” he said. He said the Government had also succeeded in reducing the national deficit to 3.2 per cent, achieving economic growth that was supported by a resilient domestic economy and having a more diversified economic structure. “These achievements clearly show the Government is always implementing policies and economic 4 management strategies that are flexible and pragmatic,” stressed the Prime Minister. In his speech Abdullah also touched on the Government’s commitment on efforts to further improve the quality of living of the people. “Average household income of Malaysians increased from RM3,249 in 2004 to RM3,686 in 2007, an average increase of more than 4.3 per cent a year,” he said. On poverty, Abdullah said the poverty rate had also been further reduced, from 5.7 per cent in 2004 to 3.6 per cent in 2007 while for hardcore poverty it dropped from 1.2 per cent to 0.7 per cent during the same period. On efforts to combat corruption, the Prime Minister said reforms were being undertaken to make the Anti-Corruption Agency a full-fledged commission while a Parliamentary Select Committee on Corruption Prevention had also been set-up.:- Bernama