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Bumi group wants Putrajaya to revive National Paddy and Rice Board, says better regulation

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The Bumiputera Rice Association of Malaysia (Barim) has urged the government to bring back the National Paddy and Rice Board (LPN) that was disbanded in 1996 to stop the “cartels” whom it claims to be disrupting the rice supply chain in the country.

Barim president Ismail Awang suggested the proposed LPN chairman and board members be appointed from within the local rice industry but with direct supervision from the Prime Minister's Department, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

“When there is a shortage in rice issues, such as the need for imported rice, government-to-government deals with supplier countries can be managed by the government itself.

“All matters will be determined by the government itself as LPN used to be. If the government wants to establish the National Paddy and Rice Council, the operating method will be the same as the previous LPN, but the approach may be different due to the current situation,” he was quoted as saying in Kuantan, Pahang yesterday.

Ismail said Barim’s approach will deal more effectively with the “cartels” compared to a proposal to set up a Madani rice category to control rice prices and regulate supply of the staple grain nationwide.

He claimed the Madani rice proposal was vague and requires thorough examination before implementation so the public will not be burdened.

“First, what kind of grade is it and what category? Do you want to set for imported rice or local rice?

“Secondly, if you want to set for imported rice, who wants to bear the excess cost? Given that 10kg of imported white rice costs RM32, there is a surplus of RM2 to be accounted for, unless the government subsidises RM5 per kilogramme, which could then be implemented.

“Third, if Madani rice is designated as local rice, where can it be sold for RM30 while the current price is RM26 for 10kg of rice? Of course, people are angry with the government,” he was quoted as saying.

He also said that introducing categories for local rice to be mixed with imported rice is in violation of the Control of Paddy and Rice Act 1994, also known as Act 522.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has dismissed the idea that the Madani rice initiative would only benefit the “cartels”, certain businesses that already control the rice market.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, said on February 19 that the proposal to combine local white rice and imported rice under one category would restrict the ability of such companies.

The idea for a single category for white rice to replace local and imported white rice in the domestic market, dubbed the Malaysian Madani White Rice, was announced on February 14 by Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Seri Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz who chairs the National Action Council on Cost of Living Task Force (Food Cluster).

The Bersatu lawmaker said the government will also set a ceiling price for white rice at RM30 for 10kg of rice, RM15.50 for 5kg, and RM3.50 for 1kg packs.