Heated exchange over rise in poultry, food prices

KUALA LUMPUR: The issue of rising prices of chicken and fresh produce led to a heated exchange in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 30).

The incident was sparked when Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi was challenged by Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) to keep his earlier promise of resolving the issue of rising food prices within two weeks.

"You gave an assurance which was published in the newspaper (NST) on Nov 24 to resolve the issue in two weeks time by Dec 9.

"Will you take responsibility for your statement?" Lim said when raising the question during Minister's Question Time on Tuesday (Nov 30).

To this, Nanta said he was willing to take responsibility for his statement but qualified it by saying the issue was complex and that it was not only dealt with by his ministry.

"You should know that the matter is very complex.

"If you want to challenge me and ask for my resignation, how about YB Port Dickson (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) when he promised if (Pakatan Harapan) won the election, petrol prices would be lowered the next day.

"But petrol prices did not go down," Nanta shot back.

Lim earlier told Nanta not to penalise small businesses to stabilise prices of food as they too are victims of rising cost of operations.

He suggested using the windfall tax to set up a fund to assist small businesses that are affected.

Nanta said they would take a holistic approach despite calls for price controls to be imposed on businesses and stricter enforcement.

"That is why we are not doing this as we are aware of the problems faced by the small businesses," he said.

Earlier, Nanta informed the House that the government has set aside RM262mil to stabilise chicken prices by assisting poultry farmers who are affected by rising cost of poultry feed.

"A total of RM200mil will be set aside to provide six-month interest free soft loans for poultry feed," he said.

He said a Jualan Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family Sales) campaign would be launched at 222 parliamentary constituencies from Dec 4.

He said selected fresh produce would be offered during the campaign which would be between 15% and 20% cheaper.

"The campaign will be held twice a month," he said.

The minister also said that his ministry would be announcing fixed farm gate prices of chicken and those sold to wholesalers to ensure that prices of chicken remain stable.

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