19 April, 2008

'Food security' policy in the works

‘In Asia, if Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia steps down, which is looking increasingly likely amid post-election turmoil within his party, he may be that region’s first high-profile political casualty of fuel and food price inflation.’

─ New York Times :"Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger"

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced that the government was in the midst of formulating a policy to ensure adequate supply of essential food in the near future.

- Malaysiakini :"PM: 'Food security' policy in the works"

A high-powered committee has been established to ensure effective implementation of the proposed food security policy, with the government allocating RM4 billion for food production and to check inflation, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.

The prime minister said the committee, with representation from the public and private sectors and also comprising individuals with expertise in the matter, would meet regularly, perhaps every fortnight.

"If necessary, the meetings will be held more regularly,"

He said it was not feasible for the committee to be too big but relevant people could be invited to sit on it from time to time, enabling the committee to obtain expert advice.

Asked whether the government would introduce other initiatives in the effort to check inflation, he said many matters had been taken into account but the important thing was to fine-tune them.

Abdullah said the government could not resort to being popular but, more importantly, had to adopt approaches which were practical, prudent, feasible and effective as well as beneficial for the people.

The initiatives included stepping up cultivation of fruits and vegetables, he said.

He also said that the country produced rice to meet 65 to 70 per cent of its needs but it was the policy of the government to ensure 100 per cent self-sufficiency, and this demanded greater expenditure.

In this connection, he said, padi would be cultivated on a massive scale in a new area in Sarawak, making the state the new "rice bowl" of the country.

"I have discussed this with (Sarawak Chief Minister) Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and he has to launch (the project). I have approved the allocation for the project upon his request for funds," he said.

Abdullah said he had also proposed to the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia to convene a series of public forums on inflation to enable the people to offer their views and suggestions and bring up their problems.

"We want to hear their suggestions, not just their problems. We know that the low-income group faces a problem," he said.

Asked whether the government would increase the fuel subsidy, he said the matter would be announced when the time comes.

Abdullah said elected representatives had a greater role to play in understanding and explaining issues, given the world economic situation and the competition from countries such as China, Vietnam and India.

-- BERNAMA :"High-Powered Committee To Effect Food Security Policy"

So,do you think Abdullah can be brought down in 100 days? Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister's Department says it is foolish of some Umno leaders to ask Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign !



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