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Friday, November 29, 2019

Time for clear action plan on Bernas, think tank tells Putrajaya

The government has said it is considering removing 30% of Bernas’ monopoly on the country’s rice supply. (Facebook pic)
PETALING JAYA: A think tank today urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to follow through with its manifesto promise to reexamine the monopoly of Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) on the rice supply in the country.
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) CEO Ali Salman said Putrajaya had already announced that Bernas would be abolished, but called for a clear action plan for implementing this.
“We can ensure food security by opening the rice trade and embracing technology instead of relying on a government-sanctioned private monopoly,” he said in a statement today.
In October last year, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub said Putrajaya was considering removing 30% of Bernas’ monopoly on the country’s rice supply.
He said this was one of the proposals the ministry had received to provide a “soft landing” for Bernas, which will see the end of its concession in 2021 when there will be no more monopoly.
While acknowledging that Bernas had successfully ensured stable prices and national stockpile management, IDEAS said this came at the cost of efficiency of resources, equity, growth and long-term sustainability.
“The market protection instruments used to ensure food security led to unintended consequences including the crowding out of competition, limited incentives for innovation, an uneven playing field and a lack of SMEs (upstream and downstream) in the industry.”
The think tank proposed a “mixed approach” in reforming the industry to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption.
Its proposals include ensuring market deregulation, sharing access to the national rice stockpile among several private actors, encouraging the use of information and communications technology in the industry, reintroducing the National Rice (Value Chain) Board and encouraging environmentally friendly padi farming. - FMT

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