Cooking oil turmoil in Sarawak with rush for 1kg bags

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KUCHING: Sarawak is still likely to face a shortage in subsidised cooking oil when Chinese New Year comes around, a situation that could result in a costlier celebration as petty traders adjust the prices of their goods to cope.

The domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry (KPDNKK) had reported a shortage of the commodity in Sarawak and Sabah since last November.

In response, the ministry allocated 2,505 tonnes of cooking oil for the state, of which 315 tonnes were distributed in Miri.

However, the additional quota has proven to be insufficient, with the cooking oil shortage most evident in the lack of government-subsidised 1kg polybags.

“Everyone has been going for the subsidised cooking oil because there is an almost RM2 price difference (per kg).

“That’s a lot. The situation got worse last November,” said state opposition lawmaker Violet Yong.

Yong (DAP-Pending) also said there should not be a shortfall of cooking oil as Malaysia was a major oil palm producer.

“They must resolve the matter soon, especially with the festive season approaching and the demand (for cooking oil) increasing.

“They must go to the ground to investigate the problem. It is their duty and responsibility to make sure there is sufficient supply in the market,” she said.

Yong added the government might have erred in cancelling its blanket subsidy for cooking oil.

Based on KPDNKK’s estimated average individual consumption of 1.5kg of cooking oil per month, Sarawak requires almost four million kilogrammes, or 4,000 tonnes a month, which is much more than the quota presently allocated.

Sarawak has a population of 2.6 million, according to the communications and multimedia ministry.