by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by BERNAMA
THE Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) will be spending RM200 million for the distribution of essential items, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and community drumming programme for rural areas this year.
The ministry has identified 137 new distribution areas, including islands such as Pulau Tioman, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang in Terengganu and Pahang.
The ministry said several new areas in Sabah and Sarawak have also been identified for the programme.
“For 2021, the government has approved an allocation of RM200 million for the programme, which is an increase of RM50 million or 33% compared to last year’s RM150 million.
“The increment in the allocation allows the ministry to expand the distribution to new areas in need,” it said in a statement yesterday.
From its observation, KPDNHEP said people who are living in rural areas have to pay higher prices for essential goods compared to people living in urban areas due to the additional transportation cost.
“It is due to the high cost of transportation as logistics providers have to travel a long distance to remote areas and through difficult roads, such as logging roads, rivers and rapids,” the ministry said.
It added that poor connection among infrastructure facilities and various terrain structures such as hills, mountains and islands also contribute to the high transportation costs.
The programme, which started in 2009, has managed to help the rural community have better access to basic goods like rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, LPG, RON95 petrol and diesel at controlled prices.
“Distribution of the necessities is carried out by appointed transporters, who buy from trusted suppliers in the city, and send and sell the items to point of sales (POS) in the distribution areas.
“The POS will then sell the items at controlled prices,” KPDNHEP said.
It added that the appointment of the transporter companies this year follows regulations approved by the Finance Ministry.
“The standard operating procedures outline the procurement through an open tender where bidding advertisements will be issued to invite companies who are qualified and interested to apply as a transporter.
“The appointment process is expected to be completed by April 2021,” it said.
Due to the timeline of the appointment process, the ministry has issued instructions for 151 existing transporter companies to extend their contracts to prevent delay in supply deliveries.
“The ministry has agreed to extend the contract of existing transporters until April 30, 2021,” it said.