PM: Naccol and agriculture ministry given until March 20 to fix padi, rice price issues


PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has given the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry and the National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) until March 20 to resolve the issue of padi and rice prices.

Anwar said the government requires a bit more time to set a fair price for this basic necessity as the interests of both consumers and farmers need to be considered.

"When it comes to the question of policies and setting policies, for example, the padi price, we need some patience to follow the process before making a decision. I spoke with Bernas at the recent Naccol meeting and asked them to find ways to reduce our dependency on imported rice and increase local production.

"They have problems; a (price) hike will burden consumers while not raising the price will burden farmers. So there is a need to strike a balance because padi farmers are among the poor groups in our country.

"While people generally want the price of rice to drop or be controlled, padi farmers want their output to be valued,” he said when closing the Central Zone Madani Rakyat programme at the Kuala Selangor Sports Complex on Sunday (Feb 25).

To ease the people's burden pending a resolution to price issues, he has directed the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry to intensify Rahmah Sales and Agro MADANI Sales programmes.

He said the domestic trade ministry and the agriculture ministry had been taking measures to tackle issues on cost of living and food prices, and this included boosting production.

"That's why we have Agro Madani Sales and Rahmah Sales to bring down prices of goods because sometimes it is a question of marketing. We have done our best, and I would like to thank all the government machinery, officers, entrepreneurs and petty traders for helping to make a success of programmes to help the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar said all policy decisions taken by the government were in the interests of the country and rakyat and not influenced by any other countries.

The Prime Minister said he emphasised this matter in a report carried by the London-based Financial Times when asked whether Malaysia's policies were drawn towards China.

"We are friends with all (countries) in the West and East, with the United States and China, but no country should try to dictate to us to be friends with this country or not to be friends with that country.

"This country is independent and sovereign and free to set our own policies,” he added. – Bernama

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