KUCHING, Aug 5: DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen has urged the federal government to move onto the next stage of the sugar open policy to allow traders to import refined sugars for retail sales so that the consumers in Sabah and Sarawak can buy cheaper sugar.
“It is good that the PN (Perikatan Nasional) government continues with the first stage of the sugar open policy (allow food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers to import sugar).
“But if the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair (KPDNHEP) can implement this second stage sugar open policy, the price of sugar in the retail shops in the country will be at most RM2.00 per kg, not the current RM2.85 per kg,” he said in a statement today.
Chong noted that the KPDNHEP has in Parliament today confirmed that it will continue with the open policy for the importation of sugar for F&B manufacturers in Sabah and Sarawak so that the cost of production in these two states can be competitive in both the domestic and international market.
Elaborating on the second stage of the sugar open policy, he said that it was to allow the traders to import refined sugar to compete against the two sugar refinery companies in the country, so that the consumers in Sabah and Sarawak can buy cheaper sugar.
In fact, he pointed out that the sugar open policy for F&B manufacturers in Sabah and Sarawak was only the first stage of the overall sugar open policy which he introduced when he was the deputy minister starting 2019.
“But it is regrettable that before this second stage of the policy could take off, the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government has fallen,” he added.
Chong, who is also Stampin MP, elaborated that the rationale of this open policy was simple.
“The international raw sugar price in January, 2019 was RM1.20 per kg. In Malaysia, there are only two companies operating sugar refineries. Both are selling refined sugar to the F&B manufacturers in Sabah and Sarawak at the price around RM2.70 per kg.
“By opening up the importation of sugar to F&B manufacturers, they can reduce their costs of production tremendously,” he emphasised.
He also shared that during his time, all F&B manufacturers from Sabah and Sarawak who applied from the ministry for the permission to import sugar were approved and not a single application was rejected.
“This policy has helped our F&B manufacturers to compete. Instead of buying sugar at the price of RM2.70 per kg from the two local refineries, they could directly import refined sugar at the price in the region of RM1.80 per kg. It saved them hundreds of thousand ringgit in their costs of production,” he said.
According to a report on the international refined sugar prices, Chong pointed out that the international raw sugar price since March 2018 was around RM1.30 per kg and in the past five years, the highest international raw sugar price was only RM2.00 per kg.
“Therefore, I urge that the PN government to proceed with the second stage of the sugar open policy, ie. to allow traders to import sugars for retail sales to consumers at large,” he added. —DayakDaily