Bernas not closing down, only rice monopoly affected — Salahuddin

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KOTA BHARU (June 7): Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub says the Government is not planning to close down Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) though the company's monopoly over the supply of rice has been reduced.

He said the Government was only planning to break up the company's monopoly to supply rice by granting the same licence to several other companies.

"We are not trying to do away with Bernas but as time goes by, we see there are problems and the need to break the monopoly enjoyed by Bernas.

"To break this monopoly, there has to be control because this is related to food safety," he told reporters after attending a dialogue with farmers at Nilam Puri Area Farmers’ Organisation (PPK) here today.

Salahuddin said several other entities would be involved in the approach to open up the monopoly on rice supply but so far, the Ministry had not finalised which agencies would be involved.

He said he would discuss the matter at the Ministry level before drafting a proposal and submitting it to the Cabinet.

Yesterday, a local newspaper quoted Salahuddin as saying that Bernas' monopoly as the country's largest rice miller would be terminated.

Asked on the introduction of new policies for the Ministry, Salahuddin said he was still making his rounds and being briefed by the various agencies under the Ministry.