KUALA LUMPUR: THE government is mulling the reintroduction of RON92 petrol to give motorists more options in getting affordable fuel.
The move came following measures to be introduced by the government as it drew up strategies to ease the burden of the middle-income group in the 2014 Budget.
During the 2009 phase-out, fuel subsidies were revised to keep RON95 prices low for those in the lower- and middle-income group.
Subsidy cuts, which came into effect on Monday, however, had raised the price of RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen per litre.
Hasan said traders seeking to profit from the subsidy cuts would be penalised, including under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2010 and the Control of Supplies Act 1961.
"We will be carrying out raids and enforcement operations to keep traders in check."
He said last year, the ministry had filed 2,193 cases out of 275,090 checks on traders nationwide.
Of these, the total number of items seized were worth RM553,980, with RM181,980 collected in compound fines.
Hasan said the offences included mislabelling, marking up the prices of controlled items and using uncalibrated weighing scales.
He urged the public to report any hikes in food prices to the ministry at 1800-886-800.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who is in Nanning, China, for the 10th China-Asean Expo, said a gradual reduction of subsidies was necessary to ensure the control of national deficit.
He said although the present subsidy for petrol and diesel as well as other basic necessities benefit the people, too much of it would ultimately bankrupt the country.
"The subsidy issue is very complex. It is good for the people, but at the same time, it incurs a lot of cost for the government.
"The annual subsidy for petrol and diesel reaches RM20 billion. The government can provide subsidies, but it must be controlled."
Mustapa also urged the people not to vent their frustration at the government as it was doing what was best for the country.
"Sometimes, popular policies will only lead to bigger financial problems," he said on Monday after meeting with Malaysian companies participating in the expo.
Less than 24 hours after the price hike, shops providing natural gas vehicle (NGV) installation services had been flooded with calls from customers wanting to convert their vehicles into NGV-operated ones.
In Ipoh, Choy Kuan Fook, 50, owner of Hup Soon Auto Work Services, said he started receiving calls since 7am from customers enquiring about NGV installation.
"I believe the people have developed a strong interest in installing NGV this time around," Choy told the New Straits Times.
He said unlike previously where only taxis used NGV, the demand from private car owners had also increased in the past few years.
"More people are opting for the NGV as it is much cheaper compared with using petrol or diesel.
"To fill up a 100-litre tank only cost RM15 and it can take one from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur."
The price for installing the NGV tank ranges between RM2,100 and RM7,000, depending on the model of the vehicle.