More talks over Madani white rice to be held before decision next month, says Anwar

PUTRAJAYA: The Agriculture and Food Security Minister has been tasked to hold engagement sessions on the Malaysia Madani white rice initiative, with its outcome to be decided at the next National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) meeting to be held in a month's time.

The directive came after the special Naccol meeting, chaired by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, heard a detailed explanation on the issue.

The Prime Minister said that stakeholders, representing industries, padi farmers and rice millers had also voiced their views and presented proposals at the meeting, to ensure its availability at a reasonable price for the people.

“After taking into consideration all views and suggestions, the meeting decided for the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry to lead and coordinate a more detailed engagement session as soon as possible.

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“It (engagement) must take into account the purchasing price of padi, supply factor, price of imported rice, sustainability of local rice as well as effects on consumers.

“I have also directed for the outcome of the engagement session to be presented and decided at the Naccol meeting on March 20 before we bring the matter for Cabinet’s consideration,” he said in a statement.

The Malaysia Madani white rice initiative came under fire from stakeholders and the public after Naccol task force (food cluster) Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Faisal said all white rice will be put under one category of Malaysia Madani white rice, doing away with the imported white rice category from March 1.

The Prime Minister had previously said that the initiative was meant to cut out manipulation by cartels in the rice production industry.

Anwar said government intervention was critical and a decision must be made soon to ensure the supply and price of rice remains stable in the market.

He said this was crucial, following an increase in prices for imported white rice in the global market due to export bans from producing countries.

He pointed out that despite the supply and price of local white rice in the domestic market being under control, he still received complaints about its limited supply.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister also touched on the importance of strengthening enforcement, to ensure rice remains in the market and that no wholesalers or millers commit profiteering.

Enforcement was also needed so that irresponsible parties would not mix local and important white rice, only to sell them at a higher price, he added.

“I have also directed for more sales programmes, such as Rahmah Sales and Agro Sales to be increased so that the people can buy their daily essentials, including rice at a lower price,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the government could continue to focus on the cost of living that is still affecting the people, although the inflation rate has eased to 1.5% as of January this year.

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Anwar Ibrahim , Prime Minister , Naccol , Madani , Rice


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