THERE are many sceptical views about the government’s efforts to find the most suitable system to implement the fuel subsidy rationalisation scheme.
While the intentions are good, there are doubts whether we can find a system that is fail-proof and which can deliver the fuel subsidy to the right groups.
In the first place, who are the groups to deserve the subsidy? Are we confident of the technology that the system provider is going to use?
Most importantly, how can we be sure that the integrity of the system will not be compromised by technology thieves, hackers and swindlers?
As we all know, even the best-known American corporations and banks have had their trade secrets and data stolen. If they, with their sophisticated systems, cannot protect the security of their technology against such hostile or criminal cyber attacks, do we have the capacity to do so?
We are talking about a fuel subsidy programme costing several billion ringgit in public money a year. There is a lot of money to be made if the crooks and the corrupt can find ways to hack the system. And, with a little incentive, they can always find somebody inside who will be willing to provide secrets for the right price.
Why not just do the simplest thing: abolish the subsidy altogether. This is the best time to take this bold step when the oil price has fallen to its lowest levels in the last several years.
The oil price is expected to remain low because there is currently an oversupply of oil in the world. The threat of Islamic State advances in the Middle East or of the Iranian blockade of the Persian Gulf is not going to rattle the world economy like in the past because the United States can now produce more oil to meet its needs.
Saudi Arabia is willingly allowing the oil price to remain low for its strategic reasons.
An abolition of the subsidy now makes the best economic sense. The billions saved from this can be used to help the poor more productively.