PETALING JAYA: The temporary price control on eggs and chicken will be lifted to allow the local market to function freely and ensure enough supply, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“Now that the prices of chicken and eggs are starting to stabilise, the government is considering floating them based on prices that are lower than the government’s float price. The Agriculture and Food Security Ministry has consulted producers and ensured that there will be no unreasonable increases by companies and traders,” he said.
More details will be announced in two weeks.
“Since February last year, the issue of eggs and chicken subsidies, which were usually introduced during the festive seasons, has continued to be borne by the government. As much as RM3.8bil was spent on the subsidies, (which are being enjoyed) by the wealthy and foreigners,” he said when tabling Budget 2024 yesterday.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) deputy president Datuk Dr Paul Selva Raj, when contacted, said that the lifting of these price controls for chicken and eggs should only be done when there is sufficient supply in the market.
The prices of both items must be kept affordable, he added.
“Malaysia has to be self-sufficient in terms of supply and affordability of essential items.”
“The only reason the government has to intervene is to ensure the prices of essential items are not beyond what the B40 group can afford. As it is, the B40 group is spending 40% or more of their income on food alone.”
In the long term, Paul said the prices of essential items should be market-driven rather than subsidised, although the government should also have a plan under its annual budget for what happens when subsidies are reduced or removed.
He spoke of the importance of ensuring Malaysia’s long-term food security, as about 65% of the country’s food production is done locally while the rest comes from imports.
“We cannot rely too much on imported food as it is subject to factors such as climate change and terms imposed by the exporting country.
“One clear example is the rice situation,” he said, citing the case of India, which banned the export of its non-basmati white rice.
He said Malaysia should make its agricultural sector more viable, such as by using modern technologies and attracting more young people to venture into this industry.
Prof Dr Anjas Asmara @ Ab Hadi Samsudin from Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Agriculture said it was time that the government lifted the temporary price controls for chicken and eggs.
To ensure low-income communities are able to afford these essential items, he said that different subsidy rates should be implemented based on their income levels, such as those from the B40.