PEKAN - It may be difficult for the public to accept the reduction in petrol subsidy, but the move is a means to an end, which is the economic well-being of the country in the long term, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"Petrol prices did not actually increase. It is just that the subsidies have been reduced.
"The fact of the matter is subsidies are just too high now and will be detrimental to the country in the long run," Najib said before handing out Hari Raya Haji contributions to his constituents here yesterday.
He revealed that the subsidies for petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas were about RM24bil last year alone.
"The amount is not small. If we do not reduce subsidies, we will not have enough funds to cover expenses, including salaries and allowances," he said.
Najib said the subsidy system had already missed its target and had to be re-examined.
"There are too many leakages besides it being unfair.
The subsidies are supposed to benefit the people but foreign tourists and workers, illegal immigrants and also the rich are enjoying it as well.
"Just recently at the Pengkalan Kubor by-election, I found that our diesel is being smuggled out through Rantau Panjang to be sold abroad," Najib said.
He added that it was imperative for the Government to think of ways to direct the benefits to the people and would announce measures to face the subsidy reduction in the upcoming tabling of the 2015 Budget.
"We will surely continue to help the people while at the same time we must reduce the deficit and plug leakages while increasing our economic standing so that there will be more revenue that can be used for the people," he said.