KUALA LUMPUR: The government will carry out four intervention measures to tackle issues related to the supply of rice, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu.
The Agriculture and Food Security Minister said that among the measures were increasing local white rice supplies to rural areas and subsidising the cost of imported white rice in Sabah and Sarawak beginning Oct 5.
Mohamad said the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) had been instructed to increase local white rice distribution to rural areas, including sundry stores.
“Since the profit margin for local white rice is only at 50 cents per 10kg pack, the government will allocate transportation costs to FAMA for distribution purposes,” he told a press conference here on Monday (Oct 2).
The imported white rice subsidies for Sabah and Sarawak would result in a 10kg pack of imported white rice only costing RM31, he said.
“The government agrees to give a subsidy of as much as RM950 per metric tonne of imported white rice beginning Oct 5 where the price of imported white rice in both states will then cost RM31 per 10kg pack,” said Mohamad.
"This is due to local white rice production in Sabah and Sarawak being limited," he added.
Other measures include enabling white rice suppliers contracted by the government to obtain imported white rice at wholesale prices, which will allow suppliers to get imported white rice at RM3,200 per 50kg.
“It is subject to the terms and conditions set in place,” he said.
A cross-ministerial task force was also launched, focusing on monitoring and enforcement efforts along the local white rice supply chain.
The special task force, Mohamad said, will be led by Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin.
It will involve the ministry’s Padi and Rice Regulatory Division (KPB), the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry’s enforcement division, the Royal Malaysia Police, the Customs Department and the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis).
“We will be doing all-round surveillance on the industry’s supply chain, including production factories and millers beginning tomorrow (Oct 3),” he said.
He added that rice samples will also be taken from all rice mills, factories and hypermarkets for chemical analysis.
“We will take strict action against anyone found guilty of mixing imported white rice with local white rice (in their packaging), or even hiding local white rice stock,” he said.
He also reminded the public to remain calm and only purchase rice according to their needs.