Gov't to introduce targeted urban agriculture programme, says Anwar

KUALA SELANGOR: The government will introduce a targeted urban agriculture programme in a shift towards increasing the country's agricultural output, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar said the success of urban farming programmes in neighbouring Singapore should be explored and emulated for implementation in areas with limited land in urban and suburban areas, starting with Kuala Lumpur.

He said the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry and other ministries and agencies involved had been given a month to submit suitable plans for the programme.

"In addition to continuing our existing efforts in agriculture, we also need to focus on urban agriculture, particularly involving the urban poor.

"I have also asked the ministers (involved) to look into this matter, including providing special additional allocations in this field to enhance agricultural activities in urban areas," he said during the Malaysia Madani dialogue session at the Central Zone Madani Rakyat Programme held at the Kuala Selangor Sports Complex, on Sunday (Feb 25).

Earlier, Anwar officiated the closing ceremony of the three-day programme, which began on Friday (Feb 23).

Also present were Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad and other Cabinet ministers.

Commenting on targeted subsidies, Anwar said that the measures to be announced by the government later would not burden the people, especially the B40 and M40 groups.

"If, say, we increase crude oil or cooking oil, if we increase it by RM2, we will not burden consumers. It means the B40 and M40 groups don't have to pay extra because we'll credit it to their accounts.

"Based on the amount of oil used every month, so from the Rahmah Cash Aid, we will give RM20 (to the B40 and M40 groups). Don't worry, the oil price will remain the same for these groups," he said.

The Prime Minister said that the approach could save billions of ringgit because, at present, 3.5 million foreigners in the country, as well as the super-rich, were also benefiting from the blanket subsidies provided by the government.

"If we don't change the way we give subsidies to help the people, (for example) in terms of fuel, let's say, for now, it's diesel, then it’s RON95 that we are providing (subsidies) for, 3.5 million foreigners also get government subsidies, but they (foreigners) don't pay taxes.

"Then the super-rich also get (subsidies). I said, can't we think of another way if the oil price rises by RM1 or RM2, but we compensate (for the B40 and M40 groups)...Put (targeted subsidies) into the accounts of those from the B40 and M40 groups," he said, adding that the targeted subsidies would help and not affect 80 per cent of Malaysians.

Anwar also reminded the people not to be easily swayed or panicked if the government introduced targeted subsidy approaches, as it might be exploited as a huge issue by the Opposition.

In another development, the Prime Minister called for engineering fields in Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET) to be enhanced, as they were capable of attracting foreign investors and creating job opportunities.

"We find that based on major investors like Google and Geely (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group), they say they are satisfied with our TVET graduates and engineers.

"But they feel there is still a slight deficiency at the highest level in the fields of IT and engineering, meaning our training programmes must be modified," he said. – Bernama

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