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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      11  August 2011

Malaysia tries to contain prices

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The government is crafting several strategies under the Seventh National Key Results Area (NKRA) to help ease the burden of the rising cost of living.

However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysians must also face facts that world prices would not return to the levels of five years ago.

"We will look into ways to improve the agriculture supply chain to ensure minimal food loss during the production and supply process," he said, adding that the Government would continue with its price control system and managed subsidies that were already among the world's highest.

Najib said the Government was also expanding rakyat-focused initiatives such as the 1Malaysia Clinic and Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia.

"The most recent initiative is the introduction of the 1Malaysia Rakyat Menu, encouraging food vendors to offer a package menu with a maximum price of RM2 for breakfast and RM4 for lunch at participating restaurants," he said.

Najib said the budget, to be tabled in October, would also emphasise managing the rising cost of living to ease the rakyat's burden and ensure Malaysia's continued economic development.

Writing in his 1Malaysia blog posting "Time To Tackle Rising Cost of Living", Najib acknowledged that the daily lives of Malaysians had been affected by the global phenomenon due to economic and climate factors.

"In two years since the NKRAs were announced, the cost of living in Malaysia has risen to affect a majority of the population in varying degrees.

"Many are feeling the pinch but they are not quite aware that this phenomenon is occurring worldwide and hitting many other countries fairly hard," he said, adding that a dramatic worldwide increase in food and fuel prices since 2007 was quelled temporarily only to see prices climb again last year.

He said major commodities producers had in recent years been facing unpredictable weather conditions, partly due to climate change.

"Droughts and floods have resulted in bad crops and shortage of essential produce such as wheat and sugar," he said, adding that major wheat exporting countries like Russia, Canada and Australia now had less to export.

He said lower production led to a cascading effect, resulting in panic buying in the global market and forcing prices up further, which affected poor and developing countries the most.

"We are not the only ones faced with this problem, and we are certainly not the worst affected," he said, adding that it was the government's duty to do what it could to manage these rising costs and seek ways to slow its effect.

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