The government has decided to channel subsidies amounting to almost RM400 million for government premises such as military camps, police and school dormitories to use imported rice, as a measure to increase local white rice supply in the market.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the move could increase the local rice supply by about five per cent, which was the amount used by the government premises.

"There is a shortage of local rice because the price of imported rice has gone up, some hotels are already using local rice.

"The decision was made today. (Government premises) will buy only imported rice... how much is the subsidy? Almost RM400 million because it is not free," he said while speaking at the ‘Segalanya Felda’ Carnival at Dataran Niaga Felda Chemomoi here today.

Also present were Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and Felda chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

On Sept 28, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu was reported to have said that he would propose for government premises to use subsidised imported rice as a measure to increase the supply of local rice in the market.

Meanwhile, Anwar said the government acknowledged the shortage of rice and the increase in the price of imported rice, which was due to the decision of 18 countries to prevent or limit the export of rice.

"To do it (subsidise imported rice) politics must be stable, the economy must be good and investments must come in. Only then will the economy improve and when we make a profit we can distribute it to the people. This is what we are doing," he said.

He said to overcome the problem of rice shortage, the Federal Agricultural Marketing Board (FAMA) was also reminded to 'actively' send rice to areas affected by supply.

"As soon as they hear of an area with a lack of rice, they have to send it. If necessary, the Ministry of Finance will increase the allocation to send this rice. We will pay FAMA," he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency