By Muhammad Ainul Hakim Norazmi, Assistant Data Analyst, Institut Masa Depan Malaysia
The sudden withdrawal of subsidies for chicken will not only aggravate consumers’ burden but also weaken the capacity of local poultry breeders for sustainable food security.
It will only worsen the already high cost of living and reduce, to a great extent, their purchasing power, leaving especially the low- and medium-income earners, with no choice but to make only essential purchases – focused on the necessities or basic goods.
Already, restauranteurs and food eatery operators are complaining of lesser profits and a significantly reduced number of customers to their premises.
Indeed, the move is badly timed on the part of the government, with no consideration given to the people to weather any price or cost hikes amid the continuing weakening of the ringgit in this challenging time.
This price control policy change seems to have been done in haste. Has the government embarked on any comprehensive study on that matter to ensure the rakyat’s suffering is no longer prolonged?
Of course, the “assurance” by Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu, that several “soft landing” mechanisms had already been put in place, should be applauded, but will those measures be able to cushion the already high cost of living endured by the people?
The minister also said so far, the government had obtained a commitment from the industry to prevent a substantial price hike for farm-gate chickens but is the industry going to keep to their words?
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair for us to jump the gun. Guess, we have to wait and see, but the continued increases in the prices of services and goods all this while seem to be telling otherwise!
Drastic chicken price increase has been the order of the day and the government must make sure that this is stopped!
Not only strict monitoring must be carried out but the government, via the Domestic Trade and Consumerism Ministry, must also intensify operations to check on possible excessive profiteering and price manipulation by irresponsible quarters.
The relevant ministries and agencies must double up efforts to ensure the floating selling price of chickens remains reasonable and within reach of all groups, particularly the B40, the poor and the needy.
They must not let those unscrupulous retailers exploit the situation and push prices, higher, especially nearing festive occasions.
Onion price set to rise
Several hours ago, India was reported to have imposed export restrictions on onions whereby a minimum export price of US$800 (RM3,806) per tonne, is allowed.
Its Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the fixed floor price had already come into effect and would be maintained until the end of this year.
As such, the wholesale market yards for onions will definitely increase in our local market as Malaysia imports almost 60 percent of mainly fresh onions – including large, small and white varieties from India – being the primary source.
The ringgit has depreciated badly and inflation has driven the food and agricultural costs up. The government must no longer be in denial mode.
Having been in power for almost one year, the Madani government must have a clear or concrete direction that could safeguard and protect people’s lives and livelihoods.
However, the economy and living situation is still difficult while the many promises made, have yet to be fulfilled. By now, it must have struck the right tone for the people for certainty and progress.