KOTA KINABALU: Consumer associations in Sabah see the Federal Government’s decision to provide a subsidy of RM950 per metric tonne for imported white rice (BPI) to Sabah and Sarawak from Oct 5 as the right step in addressing the issue of rice prices and supply in the state.
Persatuan Pengguna Bijaksana Pantai Barat Sabah president David Chan, in welcoming the move, said it was also good news for consumers in the B40 group, as well as for those in the food business in Sabah as it will help to reduce their burden of the rising cost of living.
“Rice is a basic commodity for every household. The increase in the price of rice will also affect the overall cost of living. However, the public should not speculate on the shortage to avoid confusion,” he told Bernama here Monday (Oct 2).
Earlier, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the subsidy would enable consumers to get BPI at a retail price of RM31 per 10kg, and that the action was taken because of the limited production of local white rice in Sabah and Sarawak.
It is one of the four additional intervention measures agreed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to address the issue of rice supply in the country, in addition to instructing the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority to increase the distribution of local white rice to rural areas, including in retail stores.
Meanwhile, Sabah secretary of the National Consumer Action Council (MTPN) Anna Liew said the effort by the government to provide the subsidy is greatly appreciated, but expressed the need for monitoring to ensure the effectiveness of its implementation among traders and consumers.
She said monitoring activities need to be increased to ensure no traders or consumers take advantage of the government’s move to subsidise the BPI.
Some Sabah consumers, when met, also welcomed the initiative and described it as proof of the government’s concern in overcoming the rice issue, including ensuring that supply is always available and at a reasonable price.
Rositah Gambusaleh, 40, hoped that with the subsidy, the price of imported rice would also be reduced especially now that the price of other necessities had also increased, hence affecting her monthly expenses.
“This subsidy is expected to ease the burden on consumers with the increasing cost of living,” said the mother of four.
Rona Lo, 29, hoped for systematic coordination and monitoring by the relevant parties to ensure effective implementation of the subsidy, including ensuring that rice is sold according to the set price and that the supply is always sufficient.