KUCHING: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government did not cancel the transport subsidy for essential goods for rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen made this clarification yesterday, pointing out PH had in fact allocated RM140 million to subsidise the transport of seven essential goods for rural folk.
“Out of the RM140 million allocation, more than 90 per cent will be used in Sabah and Sarawak to subsidise the transport of these seven essential goods, which are diesel, petrol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), sugar, rice, flour and cooking oil,” Chong said in a press statement yesterday.
He explained that the programme was supposed to commence in January this year, but had been delayed because PH had improvised the procurement process.
“PH had improvised the procurement process which previously was a direct-negotiation method to an open tender method. Additionally, it was discovered that some of the contract transporters appointed through the previous method had not performed to expectations.
“Furthermore, the prices offered are also not competitive, which resulted in the government paying more for less service,” Chong stated.
He further explained that in the open tender process, over 3,000 contract transporters had submitted their tenders.
“The selection process is currently being carried out by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, and the appointment of the contract transporters will then be made in due course based on merits.
“We’re currently at the final stage of the selection process, and if everything goes smoothly, the transport subsidy programme will be in full swing by April 1,” Chong said.
He also said that even though the programme would be implemented three months late from the initial schedule, the ministry would make up for the late commencement with increased supply of the essential goods for rural folk.
“For example, the allocation was for the supply of only seven LPG cylinders per family per year in 2018. As a result, despite having the programme, many rural people were still compelled to buy LPG cylinders at no transport-subsidy price. This year, we have allocated the transport subsidy to 12 LPG cylinders, which is a huge increase.
“I apologise for the delay in the implementation of the said transport subsidy programme, but rest assured that the introduction of this open tender system is for the greater good and to the advantage of the recipients of the subsidy programme,” Chong concluded.