Mada lauds govt move to review exorbitant imported white rice prices

ALOR STAR: The federal government has made the right call in ensuring that Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) agrees to review the exorbitant pricing of imported white rice.

Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Salleh at the same time, said it was time for the government to revise the price of local white rice which has remained at RM26 per 10kg since 2008.

He argued that a market-driven price for local white rice should logically be set at RM30 per 10kg, whereas RM 32 per 10kg pack would be reasonable for imported white rice.

"The price of imported white rice should be at RM32 per 10kg, why are millers escalating it to RM40 per 10kg, even exceeding RM50 or RM60 per 10kg? Thus, it's critical for the government to regulate imported rice prices due to such excessive hikes.

"For local white rice, based on my calculations, even with a padi purchasing price of RM1600 per metric tonne, it's feasible to sell rice at RM30 per 10kg. That's the current market rate, beneficial for all stakeholders.

"So, if we set the price of local white rice at RM30 per 10kg and imported white rice at RM32 per 10kg, it seems fair," he said when contacted.

Dr Ismail also proposed that the government apply targeted subsidies to prevent any financial strain on the B40 income group due to increased local white rice prices.

He stressed that local white rice prices should align with market forces instead of being suppressed at RM26 per 10kg to ensure mutual benefits for all parties and the sustainability of the rice industry.

"If the government wishes to maintain the rice price for them (B40) at RM26 per 10kg, while the price for local white rice has been raised to RM30 per 10kg, it means a government subsidy of RM4 per bag for the targeted families... considering an average monthly consumption of two bags per family, that's RM8 per month.

"With a subsidy of RM8 per month, the government would only need about RM0.5 billion annually to support the entitled subsidy recipients, this is doable," he added.

Commenting further, Dr Ismail said he disagreed with the plan to

enforce a single classification for both locally produced and imported white rice, proposed under the Malaysia Madani white rice scheme.

"Opting for a single rice category isn't something I fully support. We have laws prohibiting such rice classification, and local rice must maintain its identity.

It's not feasible to mix it with rice from Thailand or India," he added.

Meanwhile, Malay Rice Millers' Association (PPBMM) chairman Mohamad Termizi Yop confirmed that the price of imported white rice is at RM3,200 per metric tonnes.

"This price has been stable, there's no fluctuations of price going on. As off now, we are awaiting further directives from the government and Bernas for any forthcoming adjustments," he added.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) has agreed to review the price of imported white rice.

This, he said, would provide an alternative for the people to purchase rice at a more affordable price.

Anwar also highlighted the importance of enhancing enforcement to ensure the availability of rice in the market and prevent adulteration of content with local and imported white rice to be sold at high prices.

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