Johor wants to lead in food security sector; help address cost of living

JOHOR BAHRU, March 6 — Johor’s plans to lead the food security sector is believed to be able to help tackle the sharp rise in prices of basic necessities, as well as address the high cost of living in the state, in the future, said Menteri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He said the state government always listened to the people’s grouses about the high prices of goods and the cost of owning properties that were beyond their means.

Citing Johor as a producer of food products, he said the state was the second-largest producer of agricultural products after Sarawak, as well as the country’s second-largest producer of fruit, with a potential to expand it further.

“What is needed is to develop more products. If Johor leads in food security, it also means that we will be able to contribute to controlling the cost of essential goods. Hence, this is one of the steps we need to take to address the high cost of living,” said Hasni when he was appearing as a guest on the ‘Suara Johor’ programme, produced by Bernama TV, today.

Hasni said through Ikhtiar Barisan Nasional (BN) Johor, as the coalition’s manifesto for the state election, he intends to develop a digital wholesale market to manage other areas or states that can produce food products as a whole, from Perlis to Sabah.

“This is due to Johor’s strategic position. For example, more than 3,000 vehicles carry essential goods into Singapore, and it shows that we already have the infrastructure,” he said.

On housing, he said the government was always trying to find a way to ensure that more affordable housing units for the people could be built.

Therefore, the establishment of the Johor State Housing Development Corporation recently is seen as timely, and is believed to be able to help manage housing issues more effectively, he said.

“Among the efforts that have been made, we have consulted with developers so that the housing areas where there is a plan to build affordable houses to be handed over to the government … meaning it will be handed over to the corporation. A total of 1,983 hectares (4,900 acres) of land were involved.

“From there, the corporation can plan whether to build transit housing units; rent-to-own houses; houses for rent by those who have just started a family; or those who have just entered the world of work. We need to cater (to these people),” he said.

Realising various challenges ahead, Hasni, who is also the Johor BN chairman, said the word ‘Ikhtiar’ was selected for the state polls as a reflection of the coalition’s efforts in realising everything that has been outlined.

“Ikhtiar BN is a pragmatic and realistic action plan that we can do and implement once we have the mandate to form a government.

“If the BN government is given a mandate, today we make a decision, tomorrow we can start work. We don’t have to be in the meeting room anymore, to do a review on what needs to be done, on why this is good, or why others not. I have completed all those steps when I was administering the state (before),” said Hasni.

Hasni said this when asked by moderator Irfan Faruqi on how BN wanted to address the people’s concerns about the high cost of living in the state.

The Election Commission (EC) has set March 12 as the polling day for the Johor state election, with early voting on March 8.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency