Ex-Minister: Will PN Stick to PH’s Plan to Dismantle Bernas Monopoly?

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A former minister wants to know if the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government will follow through on Pakatan Harapan’s plans to dismantle the rice importing monopoly held by Bernas.

Former domestic trade minister Saifuddin Nasution revealed that Bernas’ import monopoly is set to expire in early 2021 and the government needed to act soon if they wanted to dismantle the monopoly.

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

“Is the government ready to end the monopoly? If you want to end it, there’s just a few months left, is that enough time to find an alternative?” Saifuddin asked during a press conference in the Parliament’s media room today.

According to Saifuddin, local rice production can only meet 70 percent of local demand, meaning the other 30 percent needed to be imported – the rights of which are held solely by Bernas.

The Kulim-Bandar Bharu MP said that during Harapan’s time in government, a cabinet committee on the rice import monopoly was established. He said plans were already presented to the Economic Action Council on how to dismantle the monopoly.

“We wanted to dismantle the business monopoly that’s lopsided,” he said.

He said that if the PN government wanted to end the monopoly, they should experiment with opening up import licences for specialty rice such as basmathi.

“Specialty rice is 5-10 percent of rice imports. See if new players can give a lower price or the same price as Bernas,” he said. – Malaysiakini