Budget 2014: Bittersweet reaction to sugar subsidy removal

Budget 2014: Bittersweet reaction to sugar subsidy removal
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj

PETALING JAYA - Malaysians' reaction to the government's proposal to abolish the sugar subsidy tomorrow was bittersweet. 

Some lauded the decision, saying that it would encourage Malaysians to consume less sugar. 

Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) S. M Mohd Idris welcomed the removal of the subsidy and was long overdue.

“The money saved could be channelled to people who really need it. The increase in price will deter people from consuming too much sugar,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak had said the government would abolish the sugar subsidy of RM0.34 because of health issues.

National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) president Dr. Saunthari Somasundaram also welcomed the removal of the subsidy as many cancers were due to obesity.

“This will hopefully help people in making the right decision to cut sugar from their diets. Subsidies should be channelled to essential items. Sugar is not essential,” she said adding that the number of those with kidney problems was also increasing. 

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said that the subsidy abolishment should have been done gradually.

“Sugar is an input in many products and there might be a big multiplier effect in the prices of food and drinks,” he said.

Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Datuk Jamarulkhan Kadir said he was disappointed by the decision to remove the subsidy because he didn’t think it will deter people from consuming less sugar. 

“I don’t understand the rational of the subsidy. People will continue consuming sugar regardless of its price,” he said.

He however said they couldn’t jump the gun yet and increase the prices of drinks as they would have to study the impact on the business.

“In the long run, we will have to pass on the costs to the consumers. That is a normal routine in business,” he said.

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