Finally, the good news motorists have been waiting for – fuel prices have been revised downwards. The change was expected to be announced on December 31, 2018 for the new year but due to protests by petrol station operators who said they would incur significant losses, the government delayed the announcement by a week to have discussions with them and find a suitable solution.

The new prices are RM1.93 for RON95 petrol, which is 27 sen down, while RON97 petrol (Euro4M) will also be 27 sen lower at RM2.23 per litre. Diesel (Euro2M) will cost 14 sen less at RM2.04 a litre with the cleaner Euro5 grade costing 10 sen more per litre.

The new pump prices will only be applicable for 7 days from tomorrow as a decision has been made to revert to the weekly revisions. Announcements will be made on Friday, with the new prices coming into effect on Saturday, a change from the previous announcement day of Wednesday.

The last time RON95 petrol was sold at RM1.93 a litre was in July 2017 while the last time diesel was priced at RM2.04 was in September 2017. Prices of RON95 petrol and diesel were suspended at the end of March last year prior to the General Elections and when the new government took over, they continued to maintain the prices, while RON97 petrol was adjusted on a monthly basis.

However, there is another bit of good news which was announced by the Finance Minister: the per-litre retail prices will not go higher than RM2.20 for RON95 petrol and RM2.18 for Euro2M diesel; should oil prices rise, the government will offset the additional cost with subsidies. Previously, prices of all fuels were adjusted in accordance with global oil price trends.

The price caps will apply for about 6 months, after which the approach of targeting RON95 petrol subsidies to specific groups will come into effect. After this is implemented, fuel prices will then follow global oil price trends.

Although some quarters accused the new government of making profits from a ‘fuel tax’ that was not known to the public, the Finance Minister said there was no truth to this allegation. He also revealed that although there was a general downward trend in oil prices towards the end of last year, there was still a need for subsidies in November though not as much as in earlier months. He said that the total amount of subsidies for fuel amounted to RM4.89 billion from January to November.

[Chips Yap]

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