Control inflation, 15.5.2008.
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong calls on the Special Cabinet Committee on Controlling Inflation and the Special Task Force on Handling Price Increase to work harder to control prices of goods in the country.
Although the Government insists that the current inflation rate is 2.8%, the situation is of great concern. The price of foods such as rice has gone up by leaps and bounds. One litre of kerosene was RM 2.70 in January, RM 2.90 in Mac and RM 3.20 in May this year. The price of insecticides has increased 100%, that of fertilizers from RM 1000 per 50 Kg to RM 3,000, 300%.
The Government increases grain stockpiles. We cannot keep rice for long. When goods price goes up, people tend to hoard. The Government is not able to buy 500,000 tonnes of rice from Thailand. It offers US$ 800 per tonne, but Thailand asks for RM 1,000 or more. On 14.5.2008, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister announced that Malaysia had bought 200,000 tonnes of rice, but he did not disclose the price. The first 100,000 tonnes from Thailand will be sold between RM 1.65 to RM 1.80 per kilogramme. Apparently, Thailand would rather we do not reveal the price.
I hope that the Prime Minister will let us know, from which country he will purchase the ramaining 300,000 toones. Will it be from Vietnam, United States, Cambodia or other rice-producing countries?
Energy and food subsidy in this country is RM 45 bilion a year. Rice subsidy is RM 725 million.
International factors aggravate the rice price. This includes petroleum US$ 126 a barrel and hoarding of rice in countries such as China, India, Vietnam, Rusia dan Thailand.
I propose that the Special Cabinet Committee to Control Inflation and the Special Task Force to Handle Price Increase work harder to deal with inflation. From January 2008 to 20 April, 2008, the Ministry for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs made 328,352 inspections on factories, wholesalers, retailers, supermarkets, night markets and so forth, confiscating goods from 550 premises worth RM 731,055.95.
The opening up of 100,000 acres of paddy land in Sabah and Sarawak with modern seed and technology may take ten years. The improvement of irrigation such as Kada, farm transport and the use of new form of energy will take years. Biofuels from palm oil has to be reviewed; unedible oils should be better alternatives.
The uncertainty in the world agriculture market, the hoarding by nations and America and Japan sending rice not cash as aids to poor nations complicate the situation. The Prime Minister should review the measures to face the world market of US$ 30 million tonnes a year.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw