BY: Michelle Liew
The Prime Minister, through an explanation on the issue of cooking oil subsidy and the announcement of the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) Phase 2 payment yesterday, gave his commitment and assurance on the government’s decision to continue to provide cooking oil subsidies amounting to RM4 billion for this year- RM1.8 billion higher than the subsidy given in 2021, which came up to RM2.2 billion. The government is confident that the subsidy of 60,000 tonnes per month is sufficient for the consumption of the people of this country.
This subsidy does not, however, extend to bottled cooking oil. While initially subsidised as a method of easing financial strain during the pandemic in August 2021, it was found that the subsidy was exploitated in industrial, commercial and smuggling activities. As of July 1, the subsidy for bottled cooking oil will be discontinued.
This decision comes on the heels of the government’s implementation of five short-term measures to control the price of goods, namely:
- Abolishing the import permit (AP) requirement for specific agro-food commodities;
- Restricting poultry exports abroad;
- Introducing direct financial assistance to the people, especially the B40 group from July 1.
- Creating the Agro-Food Fund with a fund of RM500 million through soft loans to agro-food industry movers; and
- Creating buffer stocks for poultry, meat, and fish to ensure adequate food supply.
All initiatives and measures taken by the government are to ensure that the price of goods in the country does not continue to rise unchecked.
Apart from that, the announcement of Phase 2 of the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) Programme with an additional RM100 for households and RM 50 for unmarried individuals also aims to ease the burden of the people in light of rising prices for daily necessities, contributed to by a variety of factors, including the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine as well as a limited supply of raw materials and the country’s high dependence on imported goods.
Currently, a total of 8.6 million BKM recipients have been approved, with households to receive up to RM2,500 this year.
Payments will be made in stages starting from the 27th of June 2022 (this Monday), with the allocation in question amounting to a total of RM1.74 billion.
There have also been calls for the government to look to offer similar assistance to the M40 group.
Among the suggestion made is for the government to provide vouchers or coupons to the people to get subsidies directly. Previously, the government implemented a Pilot Project, the PRIHATIN Kasih Program which offered a cashless payment of RM100 per month for three months to 300,000 households nationwide, with a total of RM100 million allocated.
The PRIHATIN Kasih program involved more than 300 supermarket chains and stores nationwide including Mydin, Giant, Econsave, The Store, Pacific, Milimewa, 99 Speedmart, Lotus Stores (Tesco) as well as grocery stores.