The new concession has been improved and several new terms have been made, says minister
pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE government has agreed to extend Padiberas Nasional Bhd’s (Bernas) concession as the sole gatekeeper of rice imports for another 10 years.
In a parliamentary written reply dated Nov 3, 2020, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said the new concession has been improved and several new terms have been made.
The changes include an increase in the number of social obligations from five to 10.
“The monitoring committee acts as an oversight body to continue monitoring the implementation of Bernas’ social obligations based on the key performance indicator which has been set for each obligation agreed upon.
“The extension is important in protecting strategic commodities, mainly rice, which is a staple food for Malaysians.
“Besides, uncertainties in the global economy due to Covid-19 also become a foundation in ensuring that food security in the country continues to be given priority,” he said in the reply.
He was replying to a question from Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu (DAP-Batu Gajah) who asked if the ministry will end Bernas’ concession which is slated to end next year.
Kiandee also said the extension of the concession is in line with the government’s effort to elevate the nation’s paddy and rice industry, while reducing the huge financial implications in managing the industry.
Bernas, through the single gatekeeper mechanism, was appointed as the guardian for the country’s rice management to prevent a food crisis and to act as the buffer in the event of it.
The local rice industry has been solely managed through the mechanism for the past four decades to prevent excessive profiteering and ensure constant supplies.
In 2011, the government extended Bernas’ concession to manage the country’s rice supply for 10 years, which will end in January next year.
The government is also thoroughly studying other alternative approaches that could be effective in the long run to enable a more open rice industry market, without compromising the nation’s food security, as well as the local paddy and rice industry.
Among the initiatives enforced to ensure that the country’s food security is protected include the use of modern technology in the industry, the extension of paddy field area, and optimisation of available area and soil profiling programme to use fertiliser based on the different soil needs.
“The ministry is committed to increasing the country’s rice production until it reaches a self-sufficiency level of 75% as outlined in the Strategy Paper of the 12th Malaysia Plan, which would also lessen our dependence on imports,” Kiandee said.