RM4bil food security plan

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 20 Apr 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: The cost of the Government’s food security strategy to counter the worldwide increase in prices, especially rice, will total RM4bil.

The money will be used to increase food production and counter inflation to keep prices in check.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who disclosed this yesterday, said the allocation would also be used for food stockpiling.

The Prime Minister said a high-level committee to address the issue of inflation had also been set up, with individuals from the private sector and experts in various fields to be included in it.

Abdullah said experts in the oil and gas industry and rice experts, would also be invited to give their views whenever necessary.

Friendly talk: Abdullah chatting with Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai (right) and Deputy Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (second from right) during the retreat on Saturday. On the left is Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong.

“The committee will meet fortnightly or more often whenever it needs to respond to situations,” he said after launching the Barisan Nasional MPs retreat at a hotel here.

Explaining the situation to the MPs, he said the country was experiencing a food shortage and prices were increasing due to rising global crude oil and transportation costs.

“This is a priority issue, an issue of concern being felt by the people,” he stressed to them.

Among the efforts to increase food production is the opening of a new, large-scale “rice bowl” in Sarawak, Abdullah said, adding that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had been told to lay the groundwork for the Federal-funded project.

Abdullah said many people had sent him SMS and letters expressing their concern over the soaring cost of goods with suggestions on how the Government should react.

The Prime Minister said he appreciated the feedback, adding that he had directed the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia to hold public forums on the issue.

“The forums should be held soon and there is no need for long working papers. We just want to hear the people’s views and ideas,” he said, adding that the anti-inflation committee would be paying attention.

Abdullah said the mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan would also take into consideration the latest situation, adding that priority would be given to projects that benefited the people.

“I really hope for cooperation between the Government, the public sector and the people because we all share this problem,” he added.

He also had some advice for the MPs – “understand the subjects and be well-informed of the prevailing situation, problems and challenges in and out of the country.”

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