The government’s abrupt decision to remove the ceiling price for chicken and eggs, and subsidies for bottled cooking oil and chicken breeders, is highly irresponsible and would definitely cause an acute rise in food prices from July onwards.
If no alternative plans are implemented before the removal of the said ceiling price and subsidies, the government is in effect putting the welfare of the people and Malaysia’s economic recovery in jeopardy. Already, the country’s year-on-year inflation in food prices was 4.1% in April 2022, and it would not be surprising if the rate surpasses 6% in the coming months.
The Prime Minister has previously announced that funds allocated for subsidies will be channelled directly to the people instead. Yet, the government has not announced any details on the amount or mechanism for such aid to the people.
I urge the government to immediately announce and implement the promised aid to the people before removing the price ceiling and subsidies. The DAP has also repeatedly urged the government to use the proceeds from the Prosperity Tax to establish a RM3 billion Price Stabilisation Fund to stabilise food prices.
The problem of rising prices and supply of food items is not new and has been highlighted repeatedly to the government since last year. Yet, the government and Minister have failed to institute and enforce proper policies to address the issue.
In the past months, the government has failed to channel the subsidies for chicken breeders in a timely and effective manner, choosing instead to blame the chicken breeders for allegedly sabotaging and refusing to apply for the allocated subsidies.
Now, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister continues to warn industry players and businesses to not raise prices by threatening action against them under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.
The government should stop playing the blame game and get its act together immediately. It should institute a holistic policy to address the issue instead of ad-hoc measures that cause more disruption to the economy.