PETALING JAYA: Prominent retail tycoon Ameer Ali Mydin says Putrajaya could follow India in addressing the shortage of essential goods for the local market and ultimately stop price increases.
This comes amid concerns over the rising prices of eggs in the past two months.
Ameer, who owns the Mydin hypermarkets, said one way to stem the price hike is to prioritise the local market by stopping the export of eggs and chickens to Singapore.
He said the price increase was down to a shortage of supply.
“Much of our produce is exported and we allow this. The government should develop a mechanism, so if there are price hikes, we temporarily ban exports. India does it with its onions,” he told FMT.
“If you go to the supermarket, sometimes you will notice there are no red onions, this is because they come from India.
“So you will know that there is a shortage in India and their government has stopped exports.”
Last week, the government said it was studying a short-term ban on export of eggs.
“If it helps to reduce the price of eggs and benefit the people, we will definitely look into it,” Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was reported as saying.
Ameer said the export of vegetables, a lot of which were exported to Singapore, could also be subjected to temporary bans.
It was previously reported that Putrajaya was looking to reduce or stop the export of eggs to keep prices down.
Malaysia exports eggs to Singapore, Mauritius and Hong Kong.
The government said it was investigating cartels which were involved in fixing prices.
Besides halting exports, Ameer also proposed that the government do away with approved permits (AP) for imported food and only issue them to incentivise importing when prices are high.
He said the government should do away with minimum prices of some items such as sugar.
“Sugar price is now set at RM2.85 per kg because of price control. But if we remove the AP for sugar and price control, it will drop to around RM2.30 per kg.
“The narrative against lowering the price of sugar is because of health reasons, but I believe people will still consume the same amount of sugar.”
He said only when the prices of goods were “sky high,” to the point importers did not see profit in importing them, should the government resort to APs to encourage their imports.
When the market is stable, he said, APs would only discourage supply of goods.
He said the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) must also play a role in this, by certifying more foreign markets as halal to widen chicken supply.
“The government has to force Jakim to source for more halal chicken supply, or else we cannot import them into the country.
“It is all about supply and demand. We have been saying the same thing for years. Open up the market, widen supply, and less government intervention in terms of APs.”