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LETTER | Rising costs: Is govt doing anything?

LETTER | Cost hikes are set to be the order of the day if the recent news on “economy rice, no more” is anything to go by.

Such bad news which has been hitting media headlines in the past few days, is shrouding the already gloomy skies on the horizon, posing “bouts of migraine” to consumers who are left with no choice but to continue fending against soaring prices amid unbelievably increasing costs in just anything and everything, now.

Food inflation is proving to be relatively sticky, with the B40 group, especially those poor and the needy living in the cities and towns the ones being badly hit.

Why isn’t there anything concrete pursued by the present Pakatan Harapan-BN unity government to stop or at least manage the problem?

What is there left for the people to get them going? Their sufferings and burdens do not seem to ease but are made worse through the government’s running of this country.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu, instead of finding quick solutions to the problem, is fast to politicise the issue when he said the country’s local rice supply issues were inherited from previous governments.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu

Instead of listening to the pleas and cries of consumers and others affected by price hikes, he chose to remain apathetic, claiming the opposition’s claims on the lack of rice supply in this country weren’t true and they were playing the blame game.

He confidently said that the country would recover within a month through a “special local white rice programme”.

Maybe Mohamad Sabu should look at Terengganu as an example of a state that has been able to manage the rice supply issue so far.

The yield of rice crops in Terengganu is still high and able to meet the needs of more than 60 percent of its population’s self-sufficiency level.

In the Terengganu Agriculture Strategic Plan 2019-2023, a specific plan to increase the state’s rice yield has met the target, with increased self-sufficiency rate standing at 42 percent in 2019, 49.22 percent in 2020, 54.15 percent in 2021 and 78.87 percent last year.

At the same time, Terengganu is the only state that has successfully produced its own MyGAP rice under the “Beras Ganu” brand.

“Beras Ganu” packaging and distribution, managed by the Terengganu Agrotech Development Corporation, are available at RM12.90 (5kg) and RM25.60 (10kg), cheaper than the market price set by the government.

Let’s pray hard and in earnest that we can trust Mohamad Sabu and the rest of his colleagues who make up the present cabinet line-up that they would not fail the rakyat though personally, as a voter, I think that this government has not done much but rather, failed to ease their plights so far.

The rise in the price of rice dishes as the cost of imported rice going up by 36 percent recently will definitely leave owners of restaurants and eateries with no choice but to pass the extra cost to customers.

Eatery operators would definitely want to sustain their business, so diners definitely have to pay more.

Do not forget the costs of almost all other food ingredients which are also rising like chicken and vegetables. All these are making things look pretty bleak and uncertain.

The government should continuously engage with stakeholders in the agriculture sector in identifying appropriate support measures for farmers and providing timely solutions to potential constraints in domestic food production.

It is imperative that the agriculture and fisheries sectors, especially small-scale farmers, are afforded necessary assistance in securing imported feeds, fertilisers and other key inputs at reasonable rates.

Existing subsidies and incentives provided to small-scale farmers should be disbursed in a timely manner.

Govt failing the rakyat

Likewise, the persistence of elevated food prices warrants continued financial assistance to low-income households so that the higher living costs do not inhibit their participation in economic recovery.

The government must pick up the pace on the pledges and reforms it has promised. It has been in office since the end of last year but until today, it hasn’t established a clear economic direction for the people.

It still fails to fix all sorts of problems plaguing the people despite their high expectations. Leaders must not be driven by opportunistic political interests but by the will of the people.

The weakening of the ringgit and continuous rise in the cost of living, amplified by hypocrisy where talks about eradicating corruption and upholding good governance seemingly took precedence but at the same time, they are accommodating tainted leadership.

Eight months in power, the government should have woken up to the uptick in inflationary indices and addressed other basic issues. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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