BERNAS monopoly will lead to increase of rice by-product
     

    Press Statement By DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 10.7.2000

    Call on the Government to reconsider the move not to issue new licences for the import of rice by products by traditional importers

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    The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced on 28.6.2000 that as part of the effort to curb rice smuggling activities in the country, his Ministry has been directed by the Cabinet to stop issuing new licences to import rice by products like rice flour and vermicelli with immediate effect.

    He said that import of the rice by products shall be totally taken charge by BERNAS.

    The Minster's announcement has effectively meant that traditional importers will no longer be granted any import licence.

    DAP has received complaints from importers who feel that such a Cabinet move is not only unfair to them as they have been unfairly painted as rice smugglers, it will also create a monopoly by BERNAS which will ultimately lead to increases in the price of rice by products and burden the consumers.

    The government must produce proof that the importers of rice by products have been involved in rice smuggling activities which the Minister has said are now at the peak.

    Failure to do so will only and certainly justify and strengthen the importers' claim that such a move is to make them the scapegoats of the smuggling activities and to create a monopoly situation for BERNAS which will finally result in the consumers having to pay more in future for rice by products like rice flour and vermicelli.

    In fact, efforts to curb rice smuggling activities must involve combined enforcement efforts of the Ministry's enforcement unit, the Customs, the armed forces, State Security Committees and the anti - smuggling unit.

    The Ministry must also be prepared to look at the price of white rice in the country as it has been said that the higher price of rice in our country is the main reason why rice smuggling activities are rampant.

    I therefore call on the Government to reconsider the move not to issue new licences for the import of rice by products by traditional importers.

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    - KERK KIM HOCK -

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