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Sunday July 31, 2011

Food stamp plan will help stem rising food costs, says Muhyiddin

MUAR: Malaysia may introduce food stamps soon to cushion the rise in food prices, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government was concerned about the rising cost of living which was occurring globally, adding that the food stamp idea was among the options being considered in an effort to reduce its impact.

“This is why the Cabinet decided on Wednesday to make it the seventh National Key Results Area (NKRA). We will have to look into many areas and factors to cushion the rising cost of living,” he said at a press conference after launching a Doktor Turun Kampung programme in Pagoh near here yesterday.

Muhyiddin said that besides food stamps, some countries also provided annual incentives or had a stockpile system. Malaysia already provides subsidies for fuel and other items.

He said data from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry since last year showed a trend of rising prices, especially foodstuff.

Muhyiddin, who heads the Cabinet committee looking into the cost of living, said rising prices was a global issue linked to the higher price of fuel which is affecting food production.

He said that at the same time, long droughts and floods which hit many food-producing countries also affected the price of many commodities.

The rise in the world population has also resulted in increased food prices as supply has not kept up with demand, he added.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Daud Tahir said Malaysia has never implemented a food stamp programme before, ISABELLE LAI reports.

Food stamps have been used in the United States for over 70 years to assist its low- and no-income citizens.

Currently, around 44 million Americans benefit from the programme, said its Agriculture Department food and service website.

Recipients are given an account and a plastic card, known as the Electronic Benefit Transfer card, to purchase food like bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and dairy products.

At the same function yesterday, Muhyiddin said all Pagoh residents aged 60 and above would soon enjoy free health, dental and eyesight checks and treatment.

He said a programme was initiated for doctors to go to the villages to carry out health checks and a mobile dental clinic is also available.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the “Doktor Turun Kampung” programme was mooted by the deputy prime minister.

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