KUALA LUMPUR: The government's coffers are capable of implementing the rice subsidy announced by the Prime Minister on Monday (Oct 2), says Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
The Deputy Finance Minister I said the ministry would prepare the funds so that issues with the increase in the price of imported white rice and a rise in demand for local white rice could be resolved soon.
ALSO READ: Rice hoarders to face stern action, says PM
"The Prime Minister has announced four intervention measures to help the people and groups cope with the rice supply and demand.
"This includes channelling subsidies of between RM350mil to RM400mil for government premises, such as military camps and police and school dormitories to use imported rice, as a measure to increase local white rice supply in the market.
"We will prepare the funds for this purpose," he said when met after launching the Malaysia-China Entrepreneur Macro Health Forum and Grand Sian Celebrity Charity Gala Night at a hotel here on Tuesday (Oct 3).
He noted that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would conduct a weekly review of the supply and demand situation to see if an addition was necessary.
"There were people who asked, where would the ministry find money to do this.
"We have savings from projects, additional collections from revenues from the Inland Revenue Board and Customs Department, especially.
"Since all these measures need money to implement, we will need an additional budget, which we will manage as we did before.
"The Dewan Rakyat will need to approve this additional budget of between RM350mil and RM400mil when the time comes.
"And I had a word with officials from the Budget division earlier, that we have sufficient finances to implement the newly-announced rice subsidies, which are part of the four intervention measures," he said.
Among the measures announced were:
- Increased distribution of local white rice by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) to rural areas and sundry shops, with the government bearing the transport costs.
- A subsidy of RM950 per tonne will be provided for imported white rice in Sabah and Sarawak from Oct 5, enabling the rice to be sold at a retail price of RM31 per 10kg pack.
Other measures include permitting white rice suppliers contracted by the government to get imported white rice at wholesale price of RM3,200 per 50kg.
A cross-ministerial task force was also launched, led by Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin, focusing on monitoring and enforcement efforts along the local white rice supply chain.