Najib announces mechanism to ensure supply, prices of essentials stable so that people wont suffer
PUTRAJAYA: The government yesterday announced two mechanisms to ensure essential goods are readily available at stable prices.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the National Stockpile and National Call Centre would be established under National Price Council to protect consumers interests following the surge in global crude oil prices.
The National Stockpile would stock up essential items to be released to consumers should there be a short supply in the open market, he told reporters after the National Price Council closed-door briefing at his official residence Sri Satria here.
Najib said the council, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, would decide on the essential items that should be stocked up by the government.
For instance, during the recent cooking oil shortage, the National Stockpile would come in handy to address the short supply immediately by releasing the stock into the market, he said.
The National Call Centre, which would operate round-the-clock, would receive consumer complaints on essential items to facilitate immediate remedial measures to be taken by enforcement agencies, he said. The Deputy Prime Minister said public complaints would serve as timely feedback on the supply and prices of essential goods in the market.
Consumer complaints and public feedback will be valuable inputs for the National Price Council, he said.
Najib said an advisory council comprising representatives from the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca), Cuepacs, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and chambers of commerce and industry would be set up to assist the National Price Council.
He said the National Price Council would convene its first meeting next week after Abdullah returns from attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Najib said setting up of the council did not necessarily mean prices of essentials would tumble because the main aim of the council was to ensure sufficient supply of essentials and price stability.
Najib said the council would be charged with the task of monitoring, advising and providing oversights for the government on price policy, competitive market structure, efficiency in subsidy schemes and prevention of unfair and collusive trade practices affecting supply and price of essential goods and services by broadening the terms of reference of the Cabinet Committee on Controlled Items.
The overriding objective of the council is to minimise the impact of rising prices on the cost of living and the decline in the peoples purchasing power, he said.
He said the governments latest initiative was the continuity of its efforts in taking comprehensive and action-oriented measures to control prices of essential items and adequate supply.
Asked whether more items would be listed under the price-controlled goods list by the National Price Council, Najib said it would be decided later. He said anti-smuggling enforcement operations would be intensified to curb smuggling out of controlled items.
He said foreigners can buy controlled-price goods but are not allowed to take them out of the country.
Najib said the country would not have registered a two per cent inflation rate between January and November last year had the government not taken pre-emptive measures from time to time in managing the national economy.
Najib will be the National Price Council deputy chairman.
Other members are Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Energy, Water and Communication Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Meanwhile, the councils Group of Experts chairman Datuk Dr Kamal Salih said his team would study the subsidy mechanism in the national economy to rectify the shortcomings.
For instance, he said, the governments fuel subsidy is being enjoyed by all Malaysians currently, regardless of whether they are poor or rich.