Sarawak is the biggest beneficiary of the Price Standardisation Programme, a scheme the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry came up with in 2009, to narrow the prices of goods disparity between urban centres and rural settlements and simultaneously reduce the burden of the cost of living.
In 2022, out of the total 799 areas identified for the programme nationwide, 538 are found in Sarawak.
In terms of point of sale (POS), there are in total 2,005 of them across Malaysia, with 1,019 again located in the Land of the Hornbill.
According to KPDNHEP Sarawak director Matthew Barin, the government will identify the rural areas to be included under the programme.
Following that, the government will also determine the quotas of goods sent to a particular rural area based on its population and activities.
“We will then appoint capable transporters with the necessary as well as sufficient assets and also the workforce. They will purchase the goods from the suppliers in the cities and transport and deliver the goods to the points of sale with proper record keeping,” said Matthew.
Following that, the essential goods will be handed over to the point of sale and to be made available to the rural customers.
“The POS will sell the goods to the rural folks based on the controlled prices set by the government. For example, a 1kg polybag cooking oil is sold at RM2.50, which is the price consumers pay in the urban areas,” Matthew explained.
Citing another example, he said people living in Kuching can purchase sugar at RM2.85 per kilogram, likewise for the people in Bario who can also obtain the same merchandise at the same price, even though the transporter has to move the goods more than 500 kilometres from the nearest supplier.
This, Matthew said, was due to the government’s effort to absorb the additional transportation and handling costs.
To avoid abuse and mishandling, every item identified under this programme and sold by the POS must be recorded for audit purposes.
The Price Standardisation Programme involves only seven essential goods where the prices are strictly controlled. These items and their prices are listed in the table below:
- Refined sugar at a subsidised price of RM2.85 per kg
- General purpose flour
- 1kg of pure cooking oil at a subsidised price of RM2.50
- 10kg white rice
- 14kg LPG at a subsidised price of RM26.60
- Subsidised RON95 petrol at RM2.05 per litre
- Subsidised diesel for non-industry at RM2.15 per litre
Meanwhile, Matthew also brought up another subsidy programme called the Community Drumming Programme.
He said Community Drumming Programme only involved two items, namely Petrol RON95 and Diesel.
“The government is also giving subsidies for these two items to the rural folks by absorbing the transportation and handling cost.
“You can imagine how heavy is the transportation of petrol and diesel, and they are always transported in drums; that is why it is called Community Drumming Programme.
“And if you can imagine how heavy and difficult it is to transport these two items, then you can imagine how much money the government has to spend on this subsidy,” said Matthew. — DayakDaily