KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 (Reuters) - Malaysia plans to charge foreigners market prices for petrol while its citizens get subsidised rates at the pump in a bid to manage a hefty subsidy bill, the Malay-language Berita Minggu said on Sunday.
Malaysia has some of Asia’s lowest petrol and diesel prices, fixing them well below market rates and paying subsidies to fuel retailers to compensate them.
Berita Minggu quoted Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Sharir Samad saying Malaysian citizens will have to show their identity cards when filling up at petrol stations to get subsidised prices.
“Petrol at the pump will be at market prices, with no subsidies,” said Sharir. “Foreigners will be charged market prices while Malaysians who have their identity cards as drivers license will get the subsidised price.”
There were no details on when the measures could take effect.
Malaysia’s subsidy bill will balloon to 45 billion ringgit ($14.1 billion) in 2008 and may rise further due to crude oil prices at record highs and rising food prices, the state Bernama news agency quoted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying on Saturday.
“People now cannot simply just give their identity cards to other people as it will be against the law,” Sharir Samad said.
He added that the government had not decided whether to set quotas for the amount of petrol that can be bought. If the measure is introduced, a minimum level for petrol usage could be introduced.
Oil prices CLc1 jumped to a record above $126 a barrel on Friday on fuel supply concerns and a rush of speculative buying.
Indonesia has also said it plans to review oil subsidies. The government said it would raise subsidised fuel prices to reduce its fuel subsidy bill because of rising oil prices but has not said when the increase will take place. ($1=3.195 Malaysian Ringgit) (Reporting by Niluksi Koswanage, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)