Here’s two excellent complementary views …. well captured in the following paragraphs:
Goh Keat Peng, in his article in The Micah Mandate, rightly pointed our attention to the plight of the poor in these circumstances. However, the answer is not in subsidising fuel prices. This is because such subsidies are not efficient in alleviating the problems of the poor. People who consume more get subsidised more. It is the rich who will gain the most from lower fuel prices, since they own cars, and big, gas-guzzling ones at that. Furthermore, there is the problem of leakages, in terms of foreign cars and smuggling. Then too there is the question of priorities. If we are concerned about the plight of the poor should we not work to reduce the price of essential food items in the wake of rising commodity prices? What about health care?
The sudden rise in fuel costs have served to highlight the whole issue of our country’s energy needs and policy. We also need to think through our transport policy, especially the fact that we have two national car companies dependent on the domestic market for their survival. It raised questions about how revenues from our oil reserves have been, and should be, put to use. And finally, we need to think about putting into place programs that will be more efficient in helping the poor cope with the ever-rising cost of living.
Frankly, I’m one of those who are quite uninitiated in the detail discussions surrounding the specifics of economics but perhaps that would be the same for others as well. So, TK Tan and Goh Keat Peng’s duet here models the talk on values in relation to practical strategies which need long term considerations.