Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Govt serious in overcomg effects of fuel price hike: Muhyiddin


The move to slash the entertainment allowances of Ministers and other proactive actions show that the Government is serious to overcome the problems following the increase in fuel prices. Minister of International Trade and Industry, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said the Government was concerned about the problems faced by the rakyat, especially the poor and low income group. “The members of the administration, in line with the concept of leadership by example, must be prepared to sacrifice together with the rakyat by being thrifty to face the effects of the rise in fuel price and the move to restructure the subsidy scheme,” he said in a statement here yesterday. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday announced several cost-cutting measures such as the 10 percent cut in the entertainment allowances of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers effective July 1. Other steps include limiting the use of hotel facilities to international events and functions, and prohibiting the renovations of office and freezing the purchase of office assets such as cars, furniture and computer. - Bernama


Ministers’ entertainment allowance reduced by 10%


The entertainment allowance for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers will be reduced by 10 per cent effective July 1, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday. Announcing the austerity measures which would save the Government RM2 billion annually, the Prime Minister said the Government would announce other measures from time to time in an effort to cut down Government expenditure following the oil price hike. Abdullah said the austerity measures included freezing paid leave for Ministers and Deputy Ministers and limiting their vacation to the Asean region only and the duration should not exceed one week. Previously, this group enjoyed paid vacation borne by the Government to any destination once a year. Speaking to reporters after chairing the first meeting of the Council on Tackling Inflation, Abdullah said he had also told the Council that the austerity drive should include restricting travels by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and civil servants abroad. In addition, he said Government departments were not allowed to make office renovations while postponing any purchase of assets as well as holding functions and entertainment activities. “The Government too feels the hardship faced by the people and felt that the leadership must show a good example in facing this challenge,” he said. Currently, the monthly entertainment allowance for the Prime Minister is RM18,865, Deputy Prime Minister (RM15,015), Federal Ministers (RM12,320) and Deputy Ministers (RM6,000). Abdullah said the austerity drive in Government spending was being carried out following the rise in prices for fuel and food. The price of petrol reached USD138 per barrel in the world market which forced the Government to restructure the fuel subsidy and raised the retail price for petrol by 78 sen to RM2.70 per litre, effective last Thursday. He said the Government was considering an increase in several allowances for the people to widen the social security net. “The income threshold will be raised so that more Malaysians will benefit from these allowances,” he said, adding that detailed information on the matter would be announced within a week. Referring to the directive to restrict overseas travel, Abdullah said it would only be allowed for official duties involving important international conferences and meetings only or intergovernmental meetings. He said the officers attending such meetings should also be those who were directly involved in the task concerned and the number of such Ministry or department officials should not exceed three. Under the directive, a Minister was only eligible to bring three Ministry officials on official duty abroad while a Deputy Minister could only bring two officers. The Prime Minister said the use of hotel facilities was only allowed for international meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops. “All courses, trainings and workshops organised by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies must be restricted using existing facilities at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies concerned including the Putrajaya International Convention Centre,” he said. Abdullah said the renting of new and additional office space, moving to another building or making renovations to the existing office were also prohibited. He said any expenditure for the purchase of assets including the buying of cars, furniture, computers and other office equipment which had yet to be committed should be postponed. In addition, the purchase of minor items for office use such as printing materials and stationery must be reduced, he said. The Prime Minister said that f the existing Government assets, maintenance work must be carried out in an optimum manner to save resources and expenses during the period. “Functions such as the official opening of offices, conferences, meetings, workshops, courses and prize giving should be restricted,” he said. If necessary, he said these functions must be held on a modest scale without incurring much expenses to ensure there was no wastage The expenditure on decorations and food must be modest and wherever possible, the functions must be held in existing government facilities, Abdullah said. “There’s no need to make special shirts merely to be worn for the official opening, for just a day. Thereafter, the shirt cannot be worn because of the writing on the shirt, and it is kept only for remembrance,” he said. He said the giving of souvenirs was not encouraged but if it was necessary, it should be confined to books, local handicrafts and food items. The Prime Minister also announced the freezing of new posts in Government Departments to cut down on public expenditure except for certain and critical posts in the fields of education, health and enforcement as well as posts that could directly increase national revenue collection. Abdullah said the restructuring of organisations involving Ministries, Departments and Statutory bodies was prohibited except for those aimed at improving the structure of the organisations without involving the creation of new posts or to reduce the manpower strength. - Bernama


Do away with service tax and Govt tax call


The Government should abolish the service tax and Government tax of five per cent respectively, charged by restaurants and eateries, including fast-food outlets, to lighten the burden of the lower income group. In making the suggestion, Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union (Maseu) Executive Secretary Mustafar Maarof said the move would enable these people to enjoy a better life. “As consumers, we ask the authorities to make surprise visits on food outlets all over the country to see if they are really paying the taxes,” he said in a statement yesterday. Mustafar said food businesses now raised prices at will, and by displaying a copy of the Government’s approval to charge the two taxes amounting to 10 per cent, the situation would only worsen. “For example, lunch that costs RM9 goes up by 10 per cent to become RM9.90. “Imagine a family with two children eating at a fast-food outlet, a RM45 bill will go up by RM4.50 to become RM49.50,” he said. -Bernama


Cash rebates from sat
Abdullah brings forward payment to ease people’s burden with fuel prices hike


The Government has announced that cash rebates payment to qualified private car owners, previously scheduled for July 1, has been brought forward to this Saturday to lighten the burden of the people following the massive increase in the prices of fuel. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said car owners who had renewed their road tax in April and May this year would also be able to get their payments at the Post Office on that day. The detailed information on the matter would be disclosed soon, he told reporters after chairing the first meeting of the Anti-Inflation Committee at his office here yesterday. Owners of cars up to 2,000cc, as well as pick-up trucks and jeeps up to 2,500cc, will get RM625 for each vehicle while motorcyclists with vehicles up to 250cc will receive RM150 each. Abdullah said to further ease the burden arising from the fuel prices hike, the fleet card quota, which enabled public transportation companies to buy diesel at a subsidised price, would also be increased. “Public transports which have fleet cards facility will still be able to buy diesel at the old price of RM1.43 per litre. “To ensure that public transportation fares are maintained, the Government decided that the diesel quota, which can be bought with the fleet card facility, will be increased,” he said. The types of vehicles qualified for the fleet card facility would also be expanded to cover factory buses, and taxis which are powered by petrol he said. The fleet card quota would be determined by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, he added. The price of petrol shot to US$138 per barrel in the global market, forcing the Government to restructure the fuel subsidy. The retail price of petrol is now at RM2.70, up by 78 sen effective last Thursday. - Bernama