KUALA LUMPU, Sept 27 — Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin has called on the government to increase the ceiling price for local white rice to RM34 per 10kg to address the shortage in its supply.
He said local millers were being discouraged from producing rice due to its current low ceiling price of RM26 per 10kg.
“This move would improve cost structures for producers and help alleviate shortage. It’s a better solution than trying to maintain the price at RM26 (since) supplies still run dry,” he said in a report by news portal FMT.
Ameer added that the government’s recent move to allow restaurant operators to buy imported white rice at wholesale prices was unwise.
He warned that it would benefit bigger businesses at the expense of small traders.
At the same time, he also said the decision to issue restaurant operators with licences allowing them to purchase imported rice at a wholesale price of RM3.20 per kg from Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) was unfair.
“Solutions must be simple, fair and (should not) lead to abuse. We don’t want another monopoly,” Ameer said.
On September 24, the agriculture and food security minister Mohamad Sabu had announced the decision, describing it as a short-term measure to overcome the current shortage of local white rice.
Further commenting on this decision made by the government, Ameer said more details on the initiative were needed to ensure proper implementation.
“How will the government ensure that food operators will be given preferential pricing? Malaysia is a big country with food stalls all over the place.
“What about the canteen operators and small traders, like those who offer the Menu Rahmah,” he said pointing to the Menu Rahmah RM5 set meal initiative introduced earlier this year to help reduce the cost of living.
He also asked how the government plans maintain the RM3.20 per kg price tag on imported white rice, given that local variety is already priced at RM3.10 per kg.
Ameer cautioned that the roll out of the initiative could become a “logistical nightmare” as big distributors normally deliver to wholesalers and shops, and not directly to restaurants.