The implementation of four additional intervention measures by the government to address the country's rice supply issue is capable of resolving the concerns raised by the public.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu in a special press conference today said the interventions include improving the local white rice (BPT) distribution to rural areas and a subsidy of RM950 per metric tonne for imported white rice (BPI) for Sabah and Sarawak.
All suppliers will acquire BPI at a wholesale price of RM3,200 (warehouse gate price) in 50 kg packets and launch the Special Joint Task Force for White Rice Enforcement Ops (Op BPT), he added.
In Melaka, housewife Noraini Ismail, 67, said the government's efforts to strengthen the distribution of BPT to rural areas, including through sundry shops via the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), are hoped to help local residents access supply easily.
"Lately, we (villagers) had trouble getting local rice. Fortunately, there were programmes to sell local rice organised by the authorities, so we managed to buy," she told Bernama.
In Negeri Sembilan, Hafizal Badri, 38, said as a consumer, he agreed that the distribution of BPT should be increased in rural areas due to the difficulty in obtaining the staple food, which is often in short supply in super markets.
"Meanwhile, BPT stocks were not available at sundry shops, making it difficult to find the product there. In urban areas, people have more options because there are many supermarkets. Although the government has implemented BPT interventions before, it's not sufficient," said the private sector employee in Seremban.
In Pahang, Badrol Hisham Mohamad, 42, a resident of Kampung Sungai Ular, Kuantan, hoped FAMA can carry out immediate distribution in the area so that the community can buy rice at reasonable prices.
For Fairus Mohd, a 37-year-old private sector employee, she hoped that the newly launched Op BPT would quickly resolve issues related to rice supply, ensuring that no one takes advantage of the situation.
In Terengganu, Shahrul Nizam Alias, 44, a civil servant said strengthening the BPT distribution through FAMA could efficiently address issues related to corruption and smuggling among a small group of irresponsible wholesalers or traders looking to profit.
In Selangor, a rice company owner who wished to be known as Ah Chong, 50, said the newly launched Op BPT, which is set to conduct thorough inspections across the entire industry chain, including large factories and rice wholesalers' warehouses starting tomorrow, can identify the causes of the rice shortage in the country.
"Conduct inspections at every level to ensure that everyone is following the correct procedures. This way, we can assess the quality of work and the state of rice in all stages of production and distribution. Identify those who are not fulfilling their responsibilities correctly," he told Bernama.
In Kedah, Tajudin Abu Bakar, 57, from Jitra, said these intervention measures reflect the government's concern for the people regarding the local rice supply, and relieving the consumers.
"It is good to have these intervention measures, including Op BPT; as it can address the issue if there's a shortage of local rice supply in Kedah. Perhaps some traders take advantage by selling at high prices or mixing regular rice but selling it at a high price," he added.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency