KUALA LUMPUR: To address concerns of price increases following the lifting of temporary price controls on chicken and eggs, Putrajaya is considering aiding affected Malaysians via cash transfers, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“The proposed cash transfer to Malaysians is being considered and it might be announced soon,” said the Prime Minister during the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 17).
Anwar was responding to Datuk Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar), who asked whether the government would consider aiding Malaysians via cash transfers instead of channelling subsidies to companies, which could lead to wastage.
Anwar said the cash transfer proposal was a good suggestion, but the aid cannot be given to all Malaysians and companies.
Meanwhile, Anwar also said the government has a policy to help those who are vulnerable and the principle behind subsidies is centred on welfare aid.
“Subsidies should be returned to the people and it essentially means aid. It will not be possible for us to give aid to foreigners and the rich,” said Anwar.
Anwar said the government could increase allocations for the Sumbangan Tunai Rahmah (STR) to aid Malaysians affected by the price increases.
“That is why in November and next year, I increased STR allocations from RM8bil to RM10bil, taking into account the challenges faced by the people.
“So, it is untrue that we do not care,” said Anwar.
He added that among the reasons why companies don’t want to invest in chicken and eggs was due to the price control mechanism previously.
“If we leave it to the market, I think this will convince companies to invest.
“We must ensure a balance in this issue, if we continue with the present policies, there will be no new investments, because investors are saying that they don’t know how the government will intervene (in prices),” said Anwar.
Earlier, Datuk Rosol Wahid (PN-Hulu Terengganu) asked Anwar to explain measures by the government to ensure that Malaysians will not be burdened by the potential price increases after it decided to do away with the price control mechanism for chicken and eggs.
Anwar said subsidies for chicken and eggs have reached RM3.7bil since Feb last year.
“The current approach is also benefiting 3.5 million foreigners,” said Anwar.
“In this context, how do we ensure the RM3.7bil is benefitting qualified Malaysians, aside from the 10% of the richest and 3.5 million foreigners?” Anwar asked.
“Therefore, our approach now is that looking at the current market prices, if the price is lower than the ceiling price, and chicken and eggs in Thailand are far cheaper than in Malaysia, therefore this is the time for us to float the prices,” added Anwar.
On Friday (Oct 13), during the tabling of Budget 2024, Anwar said the temporary ceiling price imposed on chicken and eggs will be lifted to allow market forces to ensure supply.
Anwar said the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry will announce further details soon.