Petrol prices remain unchanged for March 2017 and Malaysians are probably sighing in relief upon hearing the news
The retail price for RON95 and RON97 petrol in March are at RM2.30 per litre and RM2.60 per litre respectively.
However, the price of diesel has gone up by 5 sen to RM2.20 per litre.
For the month of February, the RON95 and RON97 prices went up by 20 sen while diesel cost went up by 10 sen.
The current prices for petrol are at their highest since the managed float system was first introduced in December 2014
Three years ago, the Malaysian government cancelled fuel subsidies and used the automatic pricing mechanism (APM) to calculate RON97, RON95, and diesel prices. APM was implemented way back in the year 1983.
Since then, the government has been reviewing the price of fuel monthly, whereby the prices will be informed to petrol dealers who then disclose them to the media.
It is believed that the global price of crude oil based on the Means of Platts Singapore (MOPS) and the ringgit's movement against US dollar from the previous month are being used as the main references in determining the price for the following month.
However, the widely acknowledged system of using the global price of crude oil as reference was refuted recently by the Barisan Nasional (BN) Strategic Communications Team
Leaders of the opposition said that the government had no basis for increasing retail petrol in February because crude oil prices went down in January.
In response, the comms team for the ruling coalition explained the calculations involved and said that petrol needs to be purchased by the oil companies, marketed, transported and dispensed at the individual petrol stations — all of which entail extra costs.
"Our managed float system uses the average price of the refined product — not crude oil — for the previous month to determine the retail pump price for the next month. Specifically, Malaysia uses the Singapore Means of Platts (MOPS) pricing for petrol and diesel — which is public information," the statement read.
"While global oil prices had increased in recent months due to an agreement to cut production by oil producing countries — which also benefits Malaysia, the price of refined oil products have increased further due to other reasons," it added.
However, critics have insisted that the government should be fully transparent and disclose the actual calculation
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said that the government must provide more clarity on the matter as it appears that fuel prices had still apparently increased significantly - above the market price - despite all the facts and figures presented by both divides.
"The Finance Ministry must disclose if the government is actually imposing hidden taxes on the consumers to cover up for government budget shortfalls."
"Once again, we urge the full disclosure of the data, formula and exact details on how the fuel price hikes are calculated so that Malaysians know exactly why they have been forced to suffer as a result of the government’s policies," he said in a statement that was published on Malaysiakini.
Meanwhile, calls for the government to consider setting up a ceiling price for fuel have intensified recently
"I believe the government should look into this matter and consider setting up a ceiling price."
"It means that when the fuel price is below the ceiling price, it can still be decided by APM system and if the price is above the ceiling price, then the government could subsidise," Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bukit Assek youth chief Joseph Chieng said last month, following the 20 sen petrol price hike in February.
Responding to these calls, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has said that the government is mulling over the move to tackle the issue of escalating oil price, but stressed that reversing the subsidy policies is not possible.
Do you think the government should disclose the actual calculation of fuel prices? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.