Malaysia to give food stockpile priority over projects

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3, 2008 (AFP) – Malaysia’s prime minister said Saturday his government would delay non-essential projects and use funds to secure the country’s food supply amid spiralling global food prices. The government announced on Friday that it would spend 2.49 billion ringgit (778 million dollars) this year to boost food production as worldwide costs soar for staple items such as rice.

The money is part of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s 4.0-billion-ringgit pledge last week to increase food production and tackle price hikes.

“The government has… decided to create a buffer stock not only for rice but also other essential goods needed by the people regardless whether they are poor, rich, from the urban or rural areas,” he was quoted as saying by the state news agency Bernama.

“So we have to reallocate, and when there is reallocation there will be certain (less important) projects which may not get their allocations, probably reduced or delayed,” he said.

Abdullah said the country’s food supply was not at a critical stage, Bernama reported, but did say something needed to be done quickly.

“It will be difficult later. But the fact is that we have to take these measures.