LegCo member urges petrol stations to sell only Ron 95
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE government should establish a law requiring Bruneian motorists to use only hydrocarbon (Ron) 95 as petrol for the government to save money, a Belait District Representative proposed at the sixth session of the State Legislative Council (LegCo) meetings yesterday.
LegCo member Hj Mohd Shafiee Ahmad said that 90 per cent of cars were able to use Ron 95 and added that even 10 per cent of luxury cars in Brunei were able to consume hydrocarbon 95.
"The government could save costs in producing premium petrol (Ron 92 and 97) and use the (saved) money for other expenditures," he said.
He noted that government subsidies for commodities such as diesel, regular and domestic petrol in 2007 and 2008 amounted to $400 million and $230 million, respectively.
He said that diesel was the "most subsidised", with the industrial sector being the heaviest consumer and not the road users.
"How can we save on these large amounts of subsidies, without affecting this sector (industries)?" he asked.
Hj Mohd Shafiee said these subsidies for industries needed to be reviewed, unless they could reduce the prices of their products.
"Unless they (industrial sector) show initiative to employ locals or provide business opportunities to locals, then only then, should we consider giving them subsidies," he said.
The Belait district representative suggested that the government only provide subsidies to vehicles and boats, which benefit the majority of users.
"This can help generate the country's economy, and help the expenditure of infrastructure development, as well as other expenditures," he added.
He urged the council to study the matter in detail. The issue of diesel smuggling was brought up by another LegCo member.
"Through information received, it is to my understanding that there are still irresponsible people who use locally-registered cars for the purpose of smuggling diesel fuel to confuse the relevant agencies. I wish to ask how effective is the prevention of smuggling of diesel that is government subsidised until now?" said Temburong District Representative Hj Sulaiman Hj Ahad.
Energy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Mohammad Hj Daud acknowledged that the problem was rampant in the district and the monitoring was unsatisfactory.
However, other agencies and not the Petroleum Unit was responsible in enforcement, as Hj Sulaiman had suggested.
Answering on behalf of the enforcement authorities, Second Minister of Finance Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim stated that between January 1 and November 30 last year, several arrests have been made due to smuggling of subsidised items.
A total of 2,659.9 litres of smuggled diesel and petrol were confiscated, aside from 391 kilogrammes.
The Brunei Times