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Saturday January 5, 2008

5kg buying limit on cooking oil

PUTRAJAYA: Five kilograms – that is the maximum amount of cooking oil that each consumer can buy when a move to solve the shortage of the essential item is enforced next week.  

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal however did not specify when the move would be implemented to increase stocks of cooking oil, especially in areas like Kelantan, Pahang, Malacca, Kedah and some parts of the Klang Valley where the shelves are getting bare. 

Scarce commodity: A customer picking up a bottle of cooking oil from an almost empty rack at a hypermarket in Petaling Jaya yesterday. The Government hopes to overcome the shortage in a week or two. — AZHAR MAHFOF / The Star
Shafie said that while manufacturers have been instructed to increase production from 48,000 tonnes to 53,886 tonnes a month, the restriction in purchase was necessary to ensure there would be no hoarding or panic buying. 

He said the ruling would not only apply to those buying cooking oil in hypermarkets or supermarkets but also in smaller retail outlets and grocery stores. 

One reason for the shortage was industrial users buying cooking oil in small packets, which is subsidised by the Government, instead of buying it in larger quantities, he said.  

He added that smuggling also contributed to the shortage and that the ministry had alerted enforcement agencies at the country’s borders to conduct strict surveillance to prevent cooking oil from being taken out of the country. 

“The shortage has also occurred because of the rising population. There are also more businesses such as food production factories and restaurants being opened that use a lot of cooking oil. 

“With the restriction in place and the increase in production, we hope to be able to solve the shortage within a week or two. 

“At the same time, the ministry will study other measures, including stopping leakages in the distribution system to prevent the problem from recurring,” he told a press conference yesterday. 

Asked if the increase in production was permanent or whether the ministry would order an increase again should the problem persist, Shafie said he would have to gauge the results before making decisions.  

Last year, the ministry directed 23 cooking oil manufacturers to increase output to 48,000 tonnes a month, an increase of an additional 3,000 tonnes a month.  

Related Stories:
Panic buying and rumours of price increases blamed
Move will burden public, some say


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