Nanta: Govt to study opposition's proposals on stabilising prices of essential food items

KUALA LUMPUR: Several proposals from the opposition to keep the prices of essential food items at reasonable levels will be brought to the Cabinet, says Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi.

"I have ordered my officers to jot down notes on what was raised and give my assurance that I will bring the matter up with the Cabinet.

"I will not take the credit for these ideas but inform the Cabinet that these suggestions came from you," the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said in Dewan Rakyat's Special Chambers on Thursday (Dec 2).

He was responding to the suggestions made during debates on an emergency motion raised by Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub (PH-Pulai) on rising cost of essential food items.

Earlier in the day, a heated discussion erupted in the Dewan Rakyat after a request to debate the issue was slotted for the Special Chambers.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) had argued the issue was a national matter which should be debated in the main chamber of the Dewan Rakyat instead of the Special Chambers.

"I am very happy at the outcome of our discussions here as it has been very helpful.

"If the debates were held in the main House, there would have been some who would have played to the gallery," Nanta said.

Earlier, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Kulim Bandar Baharu) proposed that the rising cost of essential food items was tackled through the combined effort of several ministries instead of just Nanta's ministry.

"I hope that you will be firm and raise this up with the Cabinet where other ministries, such as the Home Ministry, are also roped in to tackle the issue," he said.

He also suggested that subsidies were provided to small poultry farmers based on their output as between 30% to 40% of the nation's chicken was supplied by them.

"The RM200mil allocation set aside for soft loans to these farmers is insufficient and should be increased.

"The money can come from the windfall tax from the palm oil industry which rakes in RM70bil a year," he added.

He also suggested that the authorities take a closer look at the operations at the Selayang Wholesale Market.

He said that studies have shown that most vegetable supplies were channelled to the market before they eventually found their way to the smaller sundry outlets, resulting in a rise in prices along the supply chain.

Even Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun joined in the 'discussions' to ask if the rise in prices of certain food items were due to demand and supply factors.

"I remember reading during the movement control order (MCO) last year there were some farmers who were forced to destroy their chicken and vegetables as there was no demand at that time," he said.

Nanta acknowledged the recent reopening of businesses such as restaurants and eateries had resulted in demand in food items increasing and had pushed up prices due to competition.

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