Stable supply key in ceiling price removal

Chicken cost floated, egg cost remain controlled

PETALING JAYA: It’s only chicken. Despite indicating previously that the price of both chicken and eggs would be floated, the price of eggs will continue to be controlled while chicken prices will be floated from tomorrow.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu announced this at a press conference at Lembaga Pertubuhan Peladang in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Following the announcement, the Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Association Malaysia (FLFAM) was quick to assure consumers that even after the ceiling price of chicken is lifted, there will still be a sufficient supply in the market.

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The association said it agreed with the government’s decision to stop subsidising the price of chicken and allow the market to set the price.

“This action will encourage the expansion of broiler farming and foreign investment in this sector, which will further strengthen the supply and contribute positively to national food security,” FLFAM said in a statement.

It also said it welcomes the decision to retain egg subsidies and prices to egg farmers as this will allow highly affordable prices for the B40 (lower income) group.

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FLFAM added that it will continue to support the government’s move to provide Malaysians with an ample supply of chicken and eggs.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Dr Saravanan Thambirajah also agreed with the move to float chicken prices.

He pointed out there are currently a lot of chicken suppliers in the country.

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“So now there will be a more competitive market among all the players to supply chicken, so I don’t think there will be issues arising from the government’s decision.

“We have not heard of a lot of issues with chicken supplies, only with eggs because there is less of them, and it may not be enough,” he said.

Saravanan said the government probably did not lift the ceiling price of eggs or remove subsidies for them because of the instability in supply, adding that there should be a contingency plan to ensure supply.

“If you remove the subsidies now for eggs, the price will shoot up, so we have to ensure there is stability in the supply for everyone. As the government is looking at targeted subsidies, there are more positive plans being made,” he said.

Enough supply: The government has assured that the sale of chicken will be below the ceiling price after subsidies and controls end tomorrow. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The StarEnough supply: The government has assured that the sale of chicken will be below the ceiling price after subsidies and controls end tomorrow. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

However, he cautioned that authorities must keep an eye on the price of chicken to ensure there is no profiteering by irresponsible suppliers.

The current ceiling retail price for a standard chicken is RM9.40 per kilo while the retail ceiling price for Grade A eggs is 45sen per egg, Grade B (43sen) and Grade C (41sen) in Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysian Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Datuk Seri Rosli Sulaiman was grateful that the government is retaining the subsidies and ceiling price for eggs so they will remain an affordable protein for those who cannot afford chicken, fish or meat.

“It is important for the government to continue basic food item subsidies because if one gets affected, it straight away hits the pockets of the rakyat.

“So the government should be mindful of its decision as income for the B40 and M40 (middle income) groups have not seen a significant rise.

“The basic needs of the people – which are rice, oil, chicken and eggs – ideally should be subsidised because in the coming months, the people have to brace themselves for 2024 and the uncertainty that lies ahead.

“They should have at least retained the ceiling price of chicken so that people can estimate and plan their expenses,” he said.

Rosli said he hopes that following the lifting of the ceiling price, chicken suppliers will work together to control pricing and keep it to a reasonable and acceptable level.

He said with the upcoming Deepavali festivities, it is likely that people will buy more chicken.

Perikatan Nasional Indian wing deputy chairman SP Punithan said the government should reconsider lifting the ceiling price of chicken now as Deepavali is around the corner, on Nov 12.

“Is the government suggesting that the people should avoid eating chicken if the price increases?

“Malaysians are already facing the rising cost of living and now the move by the government would lead to the increase of chicken prices,” he said.

Punithan added that an alternative solution to lowering the government’s subsidy bill would be to prevent leakages, not terminating subsidies.

“Do not put the burden on the people’s shoulders in the name of saving subsidies and government money,” he said.

The chief executive officer of the think tank Centre for Market Education, Dr Carmelo Ferlito, said the announcement to end the chicken subsidy came too late after causing damage to one of the top industries in the country.

“Hopefully, the government will understand that price controls damage consumers by creating scarcity and blocking supply from adapting to respond to demand signals.

“Furthermore, price controls keep investors out of the country and undermine the rule of law and certainty of property rights,” he added.

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