ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
January 9, 2008
The Malaysian government could increase the cooking oil production quota to overcome the shortage of the essential item although the measure would cost the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
He said panic buying by a lot of consumers and smuggling of cooking oil to neighbouring countries had been identified as the causes of the problem although the supply figures showed that it should not have happen.
"We have to increase the quota due to panic buying by consumers. But this will be a loss to the country.
"The price of our cooking oil is much lower and that is why it is being smuggled to neighbouring countries," he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call by India's Defence Minister A.K. Anthony at Wisma Pertahanan here Monday.
He said if the government raised the price of cooking oil instead, it would burden consumers, and this is putting the government in a dilemma.
He was also quoted as saying that the quota increase would raise supply to 53,886 tonnes from 48,988 tonnes. Najib said enforcement could be carried out but the smuggling of cooking oil at the border areas was difficult to solve.
"This is not the first time it's happening but had occurred from time to time. I suspect it's because the price (of cooking oil) is much higher now than before."
Kelantan, Pahang, Melaka and Kedah are among the states worst affected by the shortage, following which the government decided to limit the purchase to five kilogrammes of cooking oil per person effective Monday.
On reports that flour is also in short supply, Najib said he had asked the relevant ministry to take the necessary action.