KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government’s move to subsidise imported white rice for Sabah and Sarawak will go a long way in assisting the low-income groups in the two states, says a local consumers’ group.
Sabah West Coast Wise Consumers Association president David Chan said the subsidy of RM950 per tonne of imported white rice in the states will also bring relief to businesses involved in food catering as they have been struggling to reduce costs due to the spike in the price of white rice.
He added that the efforts taken by the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry are “something that people in the two states have been hoping for”.
“As consumers, we welcome the announcement by the ministry to provide a subsidy of RM950 per tonne of rice to Sabah and Sarawak that takes effect tomorrow. It is certainly good news for the B40 group and food businesses to lower the cost of living because rice is a basic requirement for every household,” he said.Announcing the subsidy for the two states on Monday, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the move will see the retail price of imported white rice in both states costing only RM31 for a 10kg pack.Prior to the price hikes, a similar bag of imported white rice cost below RM28. It now costs RM36.The government’s bid to provide subsidies is due to the low and limited production of the grain in Sabah and Sarawak.
Chan also hopes that people will not resort to panic buying to prevent shortages in the market.
“Consumers in Sabah are completely dependent on imported white rice supplies since the state’s padi production capacity is only about 25% of its needs,” he said.
Apart from the subsidies, other immediate measures being adopted by the ministry are increasing the supply of local white rice to rural areas, permitting white rice suppliers contracted by the government to get imported grain at wholesale prices and setting up a cross-ministerial task force to focus on monitoring and enforcement efforts along the supply chain.