Sugar incentive merely a short-term measure, says Fuziah

THE government’s decision to provide incentives to a sugar refinery company is a temporary measure aimed at curbing potential inflation in food prices, says Fuziah Salleh.

The Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said these incentives were not intended as a long-term solution and is not comparable to subsidies.

Rather, Fuziah said they were meant to provide support while the government sought more effective strategies through its engagements with industries and small businesses.

She was responding to a question from Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong during minister’s Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Dr Wee had raised the issue of a sugar refinery company receiving RM42mil in incentives from the government.

“How can the ministry ensure that this subsidy is utilised effectively and that the benefits of this incentive ultimately reach the people, especially considering the existence of premium sugar which is difficult to distinguish from regular sugar?” he said.

Addressing these concerns, Fuziah highlighted the potential impact of sugar price fluctuations on small-scale enterprises such as bakeries and food stalls.

She said it was important to regulate sugar prices to mitigate inflationary pressures across various sectors, including food and beverage.

“We’re not just concerned about domestic consumers. We are also looking out for smaller businesses like those selling kuih bahulu and apam balik as they rely heavily on sugar,” she added.

Fuziah acknowledged that while premium sugar was initially introduced to assist manufacturers in mitigating losses, it had not effectively addressed the underlying issues.

“It’s imperative that we continue engagement with all parties in the industry including micro, small and medium traders.

“Unchecked increases in sugar prices could have ripple effects, leading to higher costs for consumers and exacerbating inflation.

“We’re providing incentives to sugar production in the short term to ensure stability of supply while working towards a holistic and sustainable solution,” she said.

Earlier, Fuziah said for every kilogramme of sugar produced, local sugar companies such as MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd and Central Sugars Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) incurred a loss of 88sen.

The government allowed these two local sugar-producing companies, MSM and CSR, to produce clear refined white sugar.

MSM and CSR were told to continue producing 42,000 tonnes of refined white sugar every month.

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