For years, Padiberas Nasional Berhad or better known as Bernas, has been monopolising the import of rice in Malaysia, but that’s about to change following an announcement made by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Salahuddin Ayub.
Yesterday (6 June), Salahuddin officially announced that Bernas’s contract on rice import will be ended as the ministry is now working on breaking up the monopoly. After considering feedback from the ministry and stakeholders, working papers will be submitted to the government for further action.
“To protect the interests of local paddy farmers, we have identified the modules used in other countries (on importing the staple), among them Indonesia, which has been successful in its approach in opening up the monopoly on rice,” Salahuddin said.
On the other hand, he had also temporarily suspended the National Farmers’ Organisation of Malaysia (Nafas) effective 1 June 2018. It was reported that an audit on the management of Nafas has revealed several red flags in the aspects of competency, responsibility and transparency.
“The suspension was done to enable an investigation to be carried out pertaining to management, abuse of power and leakages involving its board of directors and management.
“This is to ensure that matters which can cause losses to the entity and the people can be overcome and good corporate governance can be brought back,” he added.
The suspension will probably last for three months and during this period, the board will lose its power in making any management and financial decisions. The power to run Nafas will be transferred to the director-general of the Farmers Organisations Authority.
All the 770 employees will not be affected during this period. For now, the ministry is still scrutinising the management and if needed, MACC and the police will be roped in.
Is it just us or almost every ministry under the new ruling government is detecting problems? Anyway, let’s hope with the monopoly gone, the price of the rice can be brought down to benefit the rakyat’s wallet.