February 09, 2015

09/02/2015: Where has the RM300 Malasian rice subsidy gone?

The Kedah Regency Council deputy chairman and two rice millers have lodged a complaint with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob over suspected power abuses in handling the rice subsidy, exposing drawbacks in the RM500 million subsidy for Super Tempatan ST15 percent broken rice. Poor people are unable to purchase the subsidied rice due to alleged problems involving senior officials in the government pocketing the subsidies, The Sin Chew Daily reports

However, the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Ismail Sabri, who was severely criticised recently for harming racial harmony due to his boycott call, has distanced himself from the allegation, claiming that he has no supreme decision-making power in the government’s ST15 percent national rice subsidy programme. He said that the supply of the subsidised rice is handled by the commission led by the Ministry's Secretary-General. However, the accusation does not seem to be baseless as it was openly pointed out by the Kedah Regency Council deputy chairman, who is a rice miller himself.


It was reported that the Kedah Regency Council deputy chairman had his rice supply quota cut from 1000 tonnes to 100 tonnes as he refused bribery while the supplies of other rice millers were completely cut off. It is believed that many other millers are facing the same problem, showing that the problem of corruption in the rice subsidy programme has become increasingly serious.

The government implements the ST15 percent national rice subsidy programme and subsidies 60,000 tonnes of rice each month, with a RM750 subsidy for each tonne. However, rice millers receive only RM450 for each tonne while the other RM300 is alleged to have been passed to specific officials in the Ministry.

The purpose of the government spending RM500 million for rice subsidy each year is to allow the poor to buy cheap rice, helping them to ease their financial burdens. The intention is good, but has allegedly been abused by corrupt officials and unscrupulous rice millers, who turn ST15 percent broken rice into ST5 percent rice in order to profit from it. The result is that ST15 percent rice can no longer be found in the market, and the poor still need to buy expensive rice.

To solve the problem of rice subsidy abuses will require thorough reforms, such as revoking the quota system for Bumiputera rice millers. The Ministry allegedly allows only Malay rice millers to enjoy the subsidy while shutting the door to Chinese rice millers, the result being that Malay millers can store up to 6000 tonnes of rice and Chinese rice millers are facing a supply shortage.

Read the article HERE.

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