KUALA LUMPUR: The government is considering intervening at the consumer level to tackle the supply shortage of goods in the country, said Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday (Dec 13).
In a statement, he said that several proposed initiatives to deal with the matter were raised during the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL) meeting chaired by him.
“At the moment, the issue of supply is the main focus of the government because a lack of supply will have a negative impact.
“Thus, the government will consider examining government intervention methods at the consumer level,” said Mr Anwar without elaborating on the matter. He also did not specify the goods which are in short supply.
Mr Anwar who is also the finance minister, however, said that the proposed initiatives will be presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday and the Cabinet is expected to make a decision then.
On other issues related to the supply of goods, Mr Anwar emphasised the government’s interest in developing and supporting the livestock sector.
“The government intends to ease this industry’s ability to export their products as well as ensure that the livestock sector produces enough to meet the needs of the people,” he said.
“This includes securing greater and targeted aid, especially to local entrepreneurs.”
On subsidies for the people, Mr Anwar said that the focus of the council is how to better channel these subsidies to help the low-income B40 (bottom 40 per cent income earners) and M40 (middle 40 per cent income earners).
“Malaysia must redistribute bulk subsidies that have been enjoyed by the wealthy and conglomerates which were meant to support the B40 and M40 groups as well as small traders who are particularly affected and more in need,” said the Tambun member of parliament.
He also directed that all government departments draft and develop appropriate methods to implement these targeted subsidies.
It should be done by taking into account the interests of consumers and the industry as well as ensuring the policy's smooth and effective implementation.
On Nov 27, Mr Anwar stated that he would prioritise the issue of the rising cost of living and had given NACCOL two weeks to analyse and review the implications of the government subsidy programme.
“I have given a period of two weeks to analyse and go through all the implications and discuss with the private sector (and) investors so that they understand the purpose of the subsidy is to ease the burden of the poor,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
“The rich and the industry should not be enjoying it.”
On Dec 5, Minister of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Salahuddin Ayub stated that he is committed to mobilising all existing expertise to tackle the issue of the rising prices of goods and shortage of food supplies.
He also said the ministry would forge strategic cooperation with other ministries, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in order to optimise food production and minimise production costs.
In recent months, several states in Malaysia have seen a worrying shortage of eggs.
Industry players said that the shortage was largely due to poultry farms slashing production on the back of increased prices of chicken feed.
Local media previously reported that the panic buying of eggs has worsened the shortage in Kuala Lumpur. The latter does not have egg farms like other states.
Last month, then special task force against inflation chairman Annuar Musa pointed out that the smuggling of eggs to neighbouring Thailand was also causing the supply shortage.
As a short-term solution, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu announced last Tuesday that Malaysia will import eggs to alleviate the local supply shortage.
This was the second NACCOL meeting that Mr Anwar chaired since he took office on Nov 24.
Mr Anwar will table a motion of confidence during the next parliamentary session on Dec 19, to confirm the legitimacy of his new government.