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'Where did our oil money go?'
Published:  Jun 9, 2008 9:30 AM
Updated: 9:33 AM

vox populi small thumbnail ‘All this subsidy talk is merely moving money from the right pocket into the left pocket. What really is the issue is how all our oil money was spent.’

Your say: Tax oil firms making super-profits

CK Chim: The oil price hike simply goes to show the ineptness of the current administration. The fact that the cabinet is issuing statements on how subsidies are costing the country billions is merely pulling wool over the eyes of the rakyat.

Cut the nonsense. Our country is a net exporter of oil. This means that we are producing more than we need. When the price of oil goes up, revenue for the country increases. Currently, the oil price - which has just increased US$16 a barrel in the last two days - is due to speculative activities.

Nothing has changed during this period in terms of costs. This means that this is a ‘windfall’ profit to us and we have been benefitting from such windfalls for the past one year (ie, from US$80 to current US$138 a barrel). Does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

That translates into more money to the Treasury. Petronas and the Treasury are one and the same thing. This is the public’s money, not the government’s or BN’s or Umno’s. The country should be celebrating, not suffering.

We should be hammering out infrastructural deals to provide cheap and efficient public transportation, amenities for the common folks, industries on alternative energy as well as properly investing in revenue-generating assets so that we are prepared for a rainy day.

Those rainy days are purportedly coming in six years’ time when we become a net importer. Six years of windfall profits is a lot of money - unless some ‘smart alec’ in Petronas sold forward most of our future production at a ridiculously low price! (as long as the accounts are not open to public scrutiny, we can only speculate).

All this subsidy talk is merely moving money from the right pocket into the left pocket. What really is the issue is how all our oil money was spent. Was it squandered by politically-aligned ‘fat cats’ or properly invested as stated above?

Let the rakyat be the judge. It’s time we make a change for the good of the country. We still have six years to make good.

Concerned Non-Economist: When Vision 20/20 was launched, the then prime minister introduced zero inflation and capped wage increases in the public sector. The money saved was used to finance all those projects which we now know cost five times the actual cost.

Today, the new government is doing the same. Remove subsidies and there you have it - RM13 billion a year that could be used to finance those ‘corridor projects’ at 10 times the actual cost every year.

Many developing countries sold their oil in 1998 at a premium price of US$25 when the price was US$20 on a 10-year contract with payments by the buyer made in advance upon signing the contract. This explains why countries like Nigeria are not laughing all the way to the bank now.

Oil money was used for operational expenditure and was not invested as done by the Gulf states. If I am not mistaken, the national budget of Kuwait is financed 50% by earnings from overseas investments.

Johann Foo: Pricing oil in the commodities market mean that it can go up by two US dollars in less time than you need to finish reading this sentence whilst demand and production remains unchanged during this time. It has become an extended paradise for oil companies and speculators. People around the world are funding their good times.

Our PM made some sense for the first time since he became PM when he called for something to be done about oil pricing. It will not be a popular move amongst people who swear by a free market system but the poorer nations must step up the their demand for price controls. It cannot go on like this.

Sam: In Sarawak, we also have to suffer the fuel price hike but we have the added awful problem of having no public transport system to speak of at all in any of the major cities. I think that we must all face up to the fact that fuel price will go up but the government, both state and federal, must provide good public transport alternatives.

Special One From Sabah: Based on the current world scenario, a hypothetical situation is this - what if the crude oil price goes up to US$200 or US$300 or US$500 by end of this year? If our government is still practising the same policy, aren’t we all doomed?

Don’t laugh. With all this hedging, speculating, futures, etc, call it what you want, it will be a reality one day. It is just a question of how soon. Someone needs to step in to stop all this nonsense - cut out all the middlemen. They are all bloodsuckers.

The real price of crude oil should be only US$50 thereabouts. We should nationalise all the oil fields and oil explorations in Malaysia if need be.

Sushi Hu: Malaysia is an oil exporting country. Every year, we earn from the oil exports. So why do we need to pay more now because the oil price increase? Malaysia has earned a lot of money. Why does the government have to remove the subsidies?

Where has all the money gone? BN's corruption, that’s where. Let us release Malaysia from corruption. Kick those betrayers out from government. We together can make Malaysia a better place. Say ‘no’ and protect Malaysia.

Justin Santiago: It is high time the government realises the overemphasis on private transport in the form of national cars and tolled highways and instead turn its attention to high-speed rail links and the urban metro systems.

The time is also ripe to conduct research and development in the area of sustainable energy and put Malaysia on the world map for developing energy out of the elements of which we have an abundance of - sunshine, rain water and high temperatures all year round.

Oil is a limited resource and to each his own car is yesterdays news.

The Kee Aun: The petrol price increase is inevitable, so says the top echelon and driven by the market forces. Point noted with lots of frustration.

I am frustrated by the fact that millions of cars congregating to a few thousand petrol kiosks throughout the country. Immediately after the announcement, I was caught in traffic jam at different points. We are frustrated as tempers flared as queue cutting by inconsiderate drivers with no traffic policeman in sight. We are frustrated as no time frame was given. I am equally frustrated as excuses were given without even thinking of solutions.

Who is not frustrated? Point blank frustration and now I need to spend some time on Anger Management before I blow up on the road or being blown to the hospital.

Hang on, we need to find solutions to either maintain or change our lifestyles. Still ends with lots of frustration.

John Johnson:

Some radio deejays kept asking Malaysians why they were so kiasu in lining up to fill up petrol in their cars and cause a massive jam all over last Wednesday. Let me explain.

Let’s just say there are five million cars on the road (definitely more). If every car driver saves RM50 ringgit, then that is RM250 million that is not going to the cronies or the lame government. It is a win for the rakyat.

Look at the toll booths all over Malaysia. The queue is so long at the cash counters and we wonder why no one takes the Touch ’n Go lanes. This is because we don’t believe in paying RM100 or RM200 or RM500 in advance for the government to use.

Andrew Ng: Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad must resign for misleading the nation that the fuel price hikes would only take place in August. He must step down immediately as the rakyat no longer has any respect for him or believes in whatever he says or does. The same must apply to other ministers who flip-flop at will.

Kenny Gan:

An oil subsidy is one of the best ways of returning some of the profits of Petronas to the people. There are so many knock-down effects from the price of oil such as transportation, electricity generation, food and manufactured goods.

The fact that this subsidy also benefits some rich people is no justification for canceling it. More than enough, poor people benefit from the oil subsidy to justify maintaining it.

The government would rather use the profits from Petronas for useless white elephant projects which do not benefit the people but are nothing more than vehicles for personal enrichment.

An example is the RM15 billion undersea cable from Bakun Dam to the Peninsula when the Peninsula has 40% excess of electricity. Another is the RM17 billion double-rail tracking project when few commuters and goods use the railway nowadays.

If the country's resources are prudently managed, the oil subsidy can easily be maintained. However, the BN government cannot be excused for forcing the people to pay more for an essential item while it squanders the nation's resources on economically senseless projects which are thin disguises for plundering the country.

In retrospect, we can say that the BN politicians rape the country. But you can only steal so much.