Monday, June 9, 2008

Feeling the pinch of the rising fuel prices

Last June 5th, the Government finally announces the new prices of petrol as RM2.70 per liter (up 41% from RM1.92), and diesel as RM2.58 per liter (up 63% from RM1.58). Besides that, there’ll also be a follow up (or rather after effect) increase in electricity tariffs, foodstuffs etc, etc and etc. The list never ends. Some even anticipates that an inflation rate increase is just around the corner ...

To cushion the impact, the restructuring package also includes the following scheme :
- 30 sen subsidy for petrol and diesel
- Automatic monthly adjustment in line with global prices
- Annual cash rebate of RM625 for owners of private vehicles with an engine capacity of up to 2,000cc, and pick-up trucks and jeeps up to 2,500cc
- Annual cash rebate of RM150 for owners of motorcycles with a 250cc engine or less
- Road tax discount of RM200 for owners of private vehicles with engine capacities above 2,000cc
- RM50 road tax discount for motorcycles with engines above 250cc
- Fishermen, boat owners and transport operators will get diesel at RM1.43 per liter
- Each Malaysian fishing vessel owner will receive RM200 monthly
- Fishing vessel owners will get incentive of 10 sen for every kg of catch landed

NOTE: Cash rebates will be given to the owners of the cars and motorcycles when they renew their road tax (from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009). Claims can be made at all 686 post offices nationwide from June 14, 2008 (initially July 1st)

The majority of the rakyat seems to receive the news with mixed reactions. Some seems to be happy and others angry. Happy because the “secret” is no longer a secret, and angry because many feel that the price increase is far too much for them to swallow.

The rise in prices puts great pressure, uneasiness and worry on the livelihood of the rakyat in general. Some have already resorted to a change in their lifestyle to help reduce the impact of the price hikes on them. But as history has shown, people will eventually get used to the higher prices and revert to their old ways of lifestyle. If you are feeling the pain and would like to lessen it, read on.

So how do I feel the pinch from the impact of the fuel price surge ? Well, first I’m a very simple and practical man. I don’t get angry for nothing. Most of us know that the price hike was inevitable with the rising global prices. Well, at least that's what our political leaders want us to believe.
It's not that I totally agree or disagree with them but to be fair, we need to listen to all sides, look at all angles. Of course, some quarters blamed it on the predictions or "speculations made by manipulators" from certain "world leaders" ... I reckon you know who they are ?

According to a report by The Star (8 June 2008), in January 2007 the price of crude oil in the world market was only around US$50 (RM164.50) a barrel. Now, 18 months later, it had risen to almost US$130 (RM427.70) a barrel.
And analysts were predicting it would continue to rise up to US$200 (RM658) per barrel !! Wow, if that is really gonna happen, then by that time our petrol price could go up even to RM4.00 per liter, some people say this gonna happen may be in August ? Na'udzubillah ...
The following are fuel prices from the past 18 years - since 1990) :
Mahathir's era
before 1990 - RM 0.89
1990 - RM 1.10 (incr of RM 0.21)
01/10/2000 - RM 1.20 (incr RM 0.10)
20/10/2001 - RM 1.30 (incr RM 0.10)
01/05/2002 - RM 1.32 (incr RM 0.02)
31/10/2002 - RM 1.33 (incr RM 0.01)
01/03/2003 - RM 1.35 (incr RM 0.02)
Pak Lah's era
01/05/2004 - RM 1.37 (incr RM 0.02)
01/10/2004 - RM 1.42 (incr RM 0.05)
05/05/2005 - RM 1.52 (incr RM 0.10)
31/07/2005 - RM 1.62 (incr RM 0.10)
28/02/2006 - RM 1.92 (incr RM 0.30)
05/06/2008 - RM 2.70 (incr RM 0.78)
Note : (Common Justification Scripts - previously)
1. Kenaikan minyak masih rendah berbanding mana2 pun negara ASEAN.
2. Kerajaan akan pastikan kenaikan tidak membebankan
3. Kerajaan tidak mampu lagi menampung subsidi.
4. Kerajaan memberi jaminan harga runcit petroleum tidak akan dinaikkan lagi pada TAHUN INI.
(Scripts/ Justifications - now)
1. Rakyat mestilah mengamalkan hidup jimat cermat.
2. Kita akan memastikan harga bahan api antara yg terendah dirantau ini berbanding Singapura dan Thailand.
3. Bila kita susah, kenalah sama-sama susah, bila masa senang, 'kita saling membantu'.
4. Penjimatan subsidi RM13.7 billion 'dipulangkan balik pada rakyat'.
5. Langkah ini adalah 'situasi menang-menang'.

Sounds familiar isn't it ? Whatever it is, whether we like it or not, the price hike is really happening right in front of our eyes and it’s affecting all of us. There’s no use to get upset or angry. Those who want to go for demonstration etc, go ahead. We need groups like that too. But do it in a "proper, peaceful & reasonable" manner. But for me, the most reasonable and immediate way to face this mess NOW is to find ways of how to get more out of every liter of petrol I pump into my Terrano's tank.

Then for a longer term plan and actions, I guess there are 3 things I can do. First, to increase income. May be have to work part-time, offer tuition classes etc. But will I have the time, and energy ? Secondly, reduce expenditure. Spend less or cut on “unnecessary” things in life. Do groceries at Tesco or Giant, buy generics and avoid expensive labels. These actually I've been doing since many years ago. Thirdly, take EXTRA good care of the things I have so that their lifetime is longer. Do a regular check ups and maintenance of the car and all home electrical appliances like the stove, refrigerator, washing machine, computers etc, including clothes and shoes.

On a personal note, I’ll have to review all my travel arrangements – like going to work, sending kids to school, the weekend family outings, etc. May be I now need to drive less and use the car only when necessary. But going to work is a necessity and there is nothing I can do about that.

And I don’t think I’ll give up driving because public transport is inefficient and unreliable. I want to see the ministers take public transport. See if they can get to their offices on time. The main problem with our current public transport is the poor accessibility and non-connectivity of the different services (KTM, LRT and RapidKL). In the end, it costs almost as much as you would have spent on petrol, but you waste more time on the road.

Or may be I’ll just apply for a change of place of work. Now I’m commuting 60km (to & fro) per day from home in Bandar Baru Bangi to work in Taman Shamelin Perkasa, Cheras. After all KPTM has a branch campus at Teras Jernang, Bangi, which is less than 10 minutes drive from my home at Section 3, BBB.
Hmmm … I wonder if my employer is gonna entertain my request. Heard that the transfer waiting list queue is already quite long ... ;)

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