The government said they won’t back down on its decision to extend Bernas concession.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government should not extend Bernas’ concession for another 10 years, alleging that the company had made billions of ringgit in profits since 2018 on the back of Malaysian farmers left languishing in the “poor households” category.
He said some import rights should be given to farmers’ associations to supplement the incomes of paddy farmers.
“Their accumulated profits were RM1.2 billion in 2018, RM1.3 billion in 2019 and RM798 million in 2020. After that, nett dividends of RM670 million were given to shareholders.
“This is a monopoly that gives too much profit to one company, a rich company. When, at the same time, all 150,000 farmers in this country are still considered the poorest of the poor.
“This is against the principles of food security and food jihad because we allow a monopoly. Import rights should be distributed.
“I have no problem with Bernas managing them but distribute them among farmers’ associations that can directly benefit farmers,” the Port Dickson MP told a press conference in Parliament today.
The PH chairman said that they will oppose any monopoly that will kill other competitors, resulting in price increases.
“There should be an open tender.
“We want to ensure that imports are carried out by companies that can give returns to the rice farmers and associations,” he said.
Yesterday, the government said they won’t back down on its decision to extend Bernas concession.
Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Ronald Kiandee said the decision to allow the firm to have sole prerogative on the rice import industry until January 2031 is final.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that they will be seen as an irresponsible government if they sign a 10-year contract and then decide to cancel it.
“The question of monopoly is one of the factors that was discussed in detail in the cabinet previously.
“However, in the end, the cabinet and government decided to extend Bernas’ contract.”