MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bernas brushes aside claims of monopoly, neglecting local farmers


PETALING JAYA: Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) has denied allegations by a coalition of NGOs representing farmers that it is a monopoly that has failed to protect and promote the local industry, and has unduly favoured cheaper imported rice to escalate its own profits.
The national rice corporation told the Straits Times (ST) of Singapore that it purchased only around 30% of the total paddy produced in the country, with the rest processed by other rice millers.
It said in a ST report that it had not sought to sideline locally produced rice.
It said its nationwide deduction rate of 23.6%, for portions of products produced by farmers that are rejected for impurities, was far lower than that alleged by Padi Rescue, an NGO.
The report said as part of its social obligations Bernas was required to act as the buyer of last resort for locally grown paddy.
“At times, we have purchased rejected paddy of zero commercial value from farmers,” Bernas was quoted as saying.
On Nov 29, parliamentary opposition leader and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had urged the government to take steps to stop Bernas from initiating legal action against Padi Rescue in connection with its memorandum submitted to the prime minister on Oct 20.
The memorandum had called for the re-establishment of the National Paddy and Rice Board (LPN), whose functions Bernas had taken over in 1994, to regulate the national rice industry.
Bernas, which is controlled by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, is currently the sole permit holder of rice imports in Malaysia.
According to the ST report, Padi Rescue also claimed that Bernas had increased imports of cheap low-grade rice and caused small-scale rice millers to shut down by monopolising the rice production chain.
It alleged that Bernas had not helped farmers and millers to improve their lives economically, preferring instead to focus on maximising its own profits.
Bernas was quoted as saying that it had been fulfilling its role to assist farmers and millers by providing financial loans and aid schemes for millers, and that its profits were justified as they were ploughed back to fund these programmes.
Meanwhile, Amir Fareed Rahim, a political analyst at KRA Group, was quoted as saying that paddy farmers and staple commodities were very sensitive issues, especially for the rural vote bank in the Malay heartland.
“It is a critical issue for BN (Barisan Nasional) to try to resolve, especially since Kedah – the country’s rice bowl – is a swing state and one of the battlefronts in the upcoming election,” he said.
“Silence without attempting to resolve it will be very dangerous (for the ruling BN),” he added. -FMT

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.