KPDN anjur Jualan Rahmah Beras esok 01 1KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — The Rahmah Rice Sale initiative with an allocation of RM150 million shows the government’s determination in quickly easing the burden of the people amidst the global hike in rice prices.

The initiative involves selling imported rice for about RM13 to RM14 per five kilogrammes to the B40 group, which averages out to be cheaper than before the prices went up earlier this month.

The programme, which took effect yesterday, was announced by Deputy Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Fuziah Salleh when winding up the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review in Dewan Rakyat, as part of efforts to address both the price hike in imported rice and shortage of local rice.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) deputy secretary-general Nur Asyikin Aminuddin described the initiative as a fast short-term measure by the ministry while working on resolving the local rice shortage.

“Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the B40 group, can we afford to spend RM50 just on rice only, without any other food items? That’s why the government took this short-term measure (Rahmah Rice Sale).

“Current local rice production is between 65 and 70 per cent, so we need to increase it to 100 per cent and not depend on imported rice,” she told Bernama.

On September 1, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), in its statement, announced the nationwide price increase of imported white rice from RM2,350 per tonne to RM3,200 per tonne effective the same date, in line with current global market rates, leading to demand for local rice shooting up and thereby resulting in a shortage.

Following public complaints on the shortage, Nur Asyikin said Fomca’s enforcement monitoring found that local rice was not readily available in provision shops and supermarkets.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said the government should have a long-term plan to address the issue of food security.

“Among others, the government should be prepared with several attractive initiatives to encourage more padi farming and reduce the dependency on imported rice. We have a lot of land which can be put to good use,” he said