Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim appears to have distanced himself from the announcement by Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu that egg prices would be floated beginning July 1, with the ministry today saying the plan is off the table.
Asked by reporters on the expected increase in egg prices once floated, Anwar replied:
"That question should be directed to the agriculture minister", he was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia after performing Friday prayers in Ampang.
But hours later, Mohamad's ministry issued a joint statement with the domestic trade and cost of living ministry, saying the price float plan will not be implemented and subsidies to chicken breeders and egg producers would be continued.
"The decision to continue providing this subsidy was taken to ensure that the welfare of the people is protected, in line with the aspirations of the Madani government," the statement said.
There were fears from consumers that the price of eggs would increase due to limited supplies.
In February, Mohamad said prices of eggs would be market-driven by June as part of the government's efforts to overcome food shortages.
He said floating egg prices would allow authorities to monitor and assess fluctuations in the price of the goods compared to the current ceiling price.
"We are confident that the agriculture and food security ministry will satisfy the demand for chicken and eggs (through price floating)," he had said.
In March, Mohamad was embroiled in controversy after photographs emerged of him with controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan on a flight to India, raising questions about a government contract to a sole company for the supply of eggs from the country.
This followed Mohamad's admission that only one company was awarded a special permit to import eggs from India up to June.
The move had drawn criticism from MCA president Wee Ka Siong, who questioned the quality of the imported eggs.
Wee's remark, made in the Dewan Rakyat in his capacity as the MP of Ayer Hitam, was followed by a letter of demand from a law firm representing egg importer J&E Advance Tech Sdn Bhd.