KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 2016 (Malaysian Digest) : The restructuring of the Cooking Oil Stabilisation Scheme (COSS) previously announced by the government was meant to ensure that the quota for subsidised cooking oil that is channelled to lower income target groups and to avoid leakages.
The many efforts and initiatives done by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) since the scheme was implemented more than a month ago has been successful as the smuggling of the commodity outside of the country and hoarding of subsidised cooking oil has been reduced.
Recently, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin said that since 2013 to last April, the government had spent RM2.38 billion on subsidy to stabilise cooking oil price for the people’s use.
According to Hasan, KPDNKK, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) and other agencies need to tighten enforcement to curb smuggling so that the government does not have to bear huge losses due to subsidy leakages.
However, KPDNKK have done so before the recommendation by PAC, which resulted in the COSS giving a positive impact on the economy, health and the reduction of crime after a month since the scheme was implemented.
For example, according to records, after COSS was taken over by KPDNKK from the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (KPKK) on November 1, around 81,000 (kg) cooking oil from 38 premises worth RM550,000 was seized throughout the country as of November 14.
Efforts to combat smuggling have also been intensified as KPDNKK utilised the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) to work together with all enforcement agencies including JKDM and the Border Security Agency.
Moreover, from a health perspective, the implementation of COSS gave a positive impact to consumer health following the recommendation of nutritionists and KPDNKK itself, for the consumers to control the use of cooking oil in their cooking to prevent health risks and weight problems.
Among the recommendations stated it was highlighted that each individual only needs around 20 grams (g) or four teaspoons of cooking oil a day.
Besides encouraging people to be frugal in their use of cooking oil, COSS also gives consumers the chance to generate income through the used cooking oil buyback programme to make biodiesel, one of which is organised by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) exclusive for those living around Klang Valley and Selangor.
The rumours of rising cost of living such as the rising of food price by certain parties did not happen after the implementation of COSS.
This is a result of, among others, the ‘Friends of KPDNKK’ (FOK) where the ministry encourages consumers to become members to enjoy better benefits including sending in complaints if they found exploitation of subsidy or if prices of goods were increased too much.
This eases the government to take action because according to the Anti-Profiteering Act 2011, a fine of RM100,000 and a jail sentence or a maximum compound of RM50,000 for individuals can be imposed on those who increase price of goods based on their own whim.
Additionally, KPDNKK Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin warned that strict action will be taken on delivery companies if they smuggled controlled items across the border.
Among the controlled items on the ministry’s watchlist are sugar, flour, cooking oil and cooking gas.
In the effort to ensure that target groups can continue to enjoy government subsidies, restructuring of the COSS was recognised to be the best long-term move implemented by the KPDNKK.