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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Cooking oil shortage: Refiners to face the music

6/5/07 (NSTP)  - KUALA LUMPUR: Two ministries will be working to overcome the shortage of cooking oil and ensure that it is sold at the ceiling price.

The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry is coming down hard on palm oil refiners who refuse to produce enough cooking oil in 500g and 1kg bottles.

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry is to enforce strictly the ceiling price of cooking oil.

All this is to be done as soon as possible.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said he had held discussions with Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal about the situation.

"(Shafie) will be visiting the retailers at sundry shops and supermarkets to take action against those who sell cooking oil above the ceiling price, and I will be taking action against refiners and packers who do not pack enough cooking oil in 500g and 1kg bottles.

"Our country produces ample cooking oil. By right, there should be no shortage at all. We have so much cooking oil that we export it," he said.

It was reported that there had been a shortage of cooking oil in 500g and 1kg bottles, particularly in the northern peninsula.

The supply of cooking oil sold in 2kg, 5kg and 17kg containers is, however, sufficient.

"Domestic trade officers will conduct checks on retailers. If there is a shortage of cooking oil, they will inform my ministry and we will take the necessary action against refiners," said Chin.

He said the government would ensure that the price of cooking oil would not go up.

Since 1997, the ceiling retail prices for cooking oil packed in 500gm, 1kg, 2kg, 3kg, 5kg and 17kg containers are RM1.85, RM3.30, RM6.25, RM9, RM13.35 and RM42 respectively.

Under the Price Control Act 1986, suppliers are not allowed to sell above government ceiling prices.

"My ministry, with the co-operation of Shafie’s ministry and the Customs Department, will continue to monitor the situation," Chin said, speaking to the press before the start of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association annual dinner last night.

He also said oil palm planters owning 40 hectares or less would not have to pay cess to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board to subsidise losses incurred by cooking oil manufacturers as a result of high palm oil prices in the global market.

In 1999 and 2004, when palm olein price was sold at more than RM1,700 per tonne, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) collected cess from planters and used the money to compensate cooking oil manufacturers.

The move is to ensure a stable supply of cooking oil in the domestic market at the controlled prices and to reduce the losses suffered by the supplier.

Although the price of palm olein, the raw material used to make cooking oil, has breached the RM1,700 tonne threshold since October last year, the scheme had yet to be activated.

As a result, the suppliers, mostly members of the Malayan Edible Oil Manufacturers’ Association, have been suffering heavy losses.

Cooking oil prices per bottle:

500g: RM1.85

1kg: RM3.30

2kg: RM6.25

5kg: 13.35

17kg: RM42

Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
Tel : 603 - 7802 2800 || Fax : 603 - 7803 3533