JOHOR petrol station operators and businesses are up in arms over a move by authorities there to ban foreign-registered vehicles from Singapore and Thailand from buying fuel at stations within 50km of its borders.
Without business from Singaporeans, petrol kiosks say they "will die" since as much as 90 per cent of their business comes from foreigners, said The Straits Times. Other businesses like hypermarts and restaurants will be affected too, as they depend largely on Singaporeans.
The fuel ban is due to take effect on Friday, and is aimed at preventing foreign vehicles from benefitting from heavily-subsidised fuel, which amounted to RM40 billion (S$16.8 billion) last year. The move will affect about 300 petrol kiosks.
BH Petrol kiosk assistant Chai Shao Chin, 37, said half of the kiosk's customers are Singaporeans, adding: "Business will be down. There are so many kiosks, some will even have to close shop."
Agreeing, Shell chain dealer Sallehuddin Saidon, 46, said: "Surely there will be lower volume. This ruling is going to cripple Johor's economy badly." Forty per cent of his 1,000 weekday customers and 1,500 weekend customers are Singaporeans.
The Straits Times confirmed their fears. Most of a dozen Singapore motorists interviewed yesterday said they will cut back on trips across the Causeway.
According to the Land Transport Authority, about 16,000 local vehicles leave Singapore via the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints daily.
Subsidised petrol, regardless of brand, costs RM1.92 a litre, and diesel, RM1.58.
But Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman had told the media yesterday that the ruling will not hurt the state's tourism industry, as Johor has other attractions for foreigners.
Most petrol kiosks say they will have to comply with the ban because the fine of RM250,000 is just too hefty to risk getting caught.
The intellectual move would be to sell the petrol at market prices to foreigners. This would then actually not kill off their own people and actually do something positive for their economy.
I'm very surprised that they didn't actually do that. Amazing.