KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today dismissed the idea that the Madani rice initiative would only benefit the businesses that already control the market.

Instead, Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said the proposal to combine local white rice and imported rice under one category would restrict the ability of such firms.

“No. We are cutting the cartel’s intervention. We will discuss this at the next Naccol meeting,” he told reporters after an event at Menara Maybank, here, referring to the National Action Council on Cost of Living.

Anwar was responding to Umno Youth chief Akmal Saleh who said the Madani rice proposal would benefit businesses already controlling the market rather than consumers.

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Akmal, who is also the Merlimau MP, further claimed that the proposal would hurt the local rice industry if it were implemented.

He said the government should stop “cartels” from mixing local white rice with imported white rice and that the government should focus on improving local rice instead of benefiting the cartels and burdening the people.

The Madani rice idea was recently floated by Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz, one of six MPs from Bersatu who declared support for Anwar.

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Syed Abu, who has been appointed chairman of the Task Force (Food Cluster) in Naccol, said that the government will introduce a single category for white rice to replace local and imported white rice in the domestic market to be known as Malaysian Madani White Rice.

He added that the government will also set a ceiling price for white rice at RM30 for 10kg of rice, RM15.50 for 5kg, and RM3.50 for 1kg packs.

The Naccol is scheduled to meet and decide on rice price controls this week, Anwar told reporters on February 16.

Malaysia grows rice but production is insufficient to meet domestic demand and has been affected by the global rice shortage after India, the world’s largest producer, limited its rice exports since July 2023.