Source: The Edge
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 21): Sceptical over the delisting of national rice company Bernas, opposition parliamentarians today asked the Securities Commission (SC) to investigate the move after an urgent motion to discuss the issue was rejected by Dewan Rakyat.
Alor Setar PKR MP Gooi Hsiao Leung said the motives behind the delisting were suspicions as Bernas has a monopoly of the rice industry until 2021.
"It was tasked by the government to ensure that the supply is met and to look out for the welfare of padi farmers," Gooi told reporters.
"Their role is critical to our rice production industry... when news of the voluntary delisting came up, many of us raise the issue on why the government did not exercise its golden share to stop it or utilise its rights under the privatisation agrrement it had signed with Bernas... because the delisting goes against the national interest," he said.
The opposition has been trying to cajole the government to halt the process claiming that almost 90% of Bernas shares belong to various companies owned by government-linked business tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
"Bernas said it perform a consolidation after the delisting but you don't usually delist a company then consolidate and relist on Bursa Saham.
"What's the purpose unless they want to enrich the main shareholders in this case the Umno cronies," said Gooi.
Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia rejected Gooi's emergency motion stating that the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry had clarified on issue.
Kuala Kedah PKR MP Dr Azman Ismail added the delisting was the company's way of profiteering.
"They are trying to make money out of government investment at the expense of poor padi farmers," said Azman.
Gooi said he will write in to the SC to investigate the matter in order get a clarification.
The bulk of Bernas shares is controlled by Syed Mokhtar through Tradewinds (M) Bhd which holds 72.7% of Bernas shares.
Bernas was privatised in January 1996 replacing the National Paddy and Rice Board (LPN) as regulator of the local rice industry.
On April 26, 2011, the government announced that Bernas’ contract for rice distribution has been extended for another 10 years starting from January 11, 2011 to January 10, 2021.
According to news reports, Bernas currently controls 24% of the paddy market and 45% of the local rice demand.