GEORGE TOWN, Dec 22 ― The government is confident that the Food Bank Malaysia Programme (FBMP) can lighten the impact of the rising cost of living on the populace and reduce food wastage.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the implementation of the FBMP, to be headed by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, was timely with the focus of the government to lighten the burden in the cost of living of the people especially the B40 (lower income) group.
“This group must be given full attention to enable them access to (cheaper) food supply. This will boost their disposable income which can be use for education and health,” he said in his speech for the launching of the national-level FBMP at Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang here today. The text of his speech was read out by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Dr Mahathir said the initiative was a voluntary effort which did not have a large financial implication to the government.
“This initiative can be implemented via a high social responsibility commitment and voluntary spirit in the private sector and non-government organisations to together help the government in tackling the issue of food wastage and cost of living,” he said.
He said the issue of surplus food was not a strange matter to Malaysia as its people produced 15,000 tonnes of excess food a day, of which 3,000 tonnes were safe for consumption.
“Almost two million people can benefit from the 3,000 tonnes of excess food if it can be distributed optimally. The issue of surplus food may appear trivial but it has a huge impact on the needy,” he said.
He said that he was told that via FBMP the surplus food would be channelled to the target groups and registered welfare homes.
“I was also told that FBMP will target 186,354 households which are below the poverty line nationwide to receive the surplus food,” he said.
To ensure a more systematic and orderly management of the surplus food and implementation of FBMP, Dr Mahathir said the government had agreed to launch a foundation which would be known as the Food Bank Malaysia Foundation.
“This foundation will become the catalyst in the effort of the government to reduce food wastage and tackle the issue of rising cost of living and will be headed by trustees comprising those with experience and committed in implementing successfully the government agenda,” he said.
He also hoped that with the completion of all mechanisms of operation of its implementation, FBMP could be successfully mobilised to help all needy groups not only in Peninsular Malaysia but also in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.
“I also take this opportunity to once again call on all quarters especially corporate bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and also individuals to be with the government in making FBMP a success,” he said. ― Bernama