Govt urged to implement stockpile policy to address food crisis

PETALING JAYA: The government should consider implementing the stockpile policy and restructure various ministries to better address supply shortages, says Rafizi Ramli (pic).

The PKR deputy president said the stockpile policy, which has proven to be successful during the 1970s food crisis, empowers the government to purchase and store food supplies and basic necessities including petrol and diesel, in bulk.

“The stored items then can be injected into the market when there is a supply disruption that causes a sharp price increase.

“The stockpile can help to reduce the impact of supply shortages similar to what we are experiencing recently, and allow the government to control the increase of price for food items and basic necessities,” he said in a statement.

Rafizi said the government can build up the stockpile using various fiscal instruments such as hedging and purchasing future contracts.

The government, Rafizi said would also need to establish an independent “National Supply and Sustainability Committee” to help build up the stockpile.

“This commission should be accountable to Parliament and monitored closely to prevent the provision from being misused by elements of corruption,” he said.

The government, Rafizi said should also restructure and streamline the various ministries involved in the food supply chain.

This, he said was to avoid bureaucracy and allow for better planning when it comes to managing food supplies.

“Ideally, the powers and responsibilities that supervise and enforce policies and laws involving the food chain supply should be centralized to one ministry only.

“Under the current government, the food supply chain is divided into many ministries, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries, Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and countless agencies below them.

“That is why it takes a longer period of time for them to take any action and none of the ministers would take the responsibility.

“The administration of the country ended up with meetings after meetings that took months because there were too many ministries involved to decide on a single solution,” he said.