PETALING JAYA: Restaurant and lorry operators, faced with an order to lower prices due to the cheaper fuel, say there is no way they can meet the one-week deadline.
Responding to the deadline set by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister, both parties said they could not adhere as other costs were rising.
Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said his officers would be conducting prices checks from this week, warning traders that action would be taken against those found making excessive profits.
The Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association described the deadline set as “laughable”.
“We cannot work magic. This is not the right way to do things.
“We will carry on with the (current) prices as we have overheads, GST.
“We can only adjust prices if the cost of raw material goes down,” said its president Ho Su Mong.
He said there were many factors affecting the price of food, saying:
“In Johor, the cost of water is the highest in the country, so restaurants have to account for that.”
Ho added that unless suppliers and transport firms lowered their prices, it was impossible to expect restaurants to do so.
Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association honorary secretary Keu Kok Meng said the ministry should be more specific.
“They gave a short time frame and it is so broad – no specification as to what line of business they mean.
“We note the points raised, but the public must understand what contributes to a drink or meal.
“It’s not just 10 sen of petrol; there are raw materials, rent and labour.”
Keu, who operates a coffee shop, claimed petrol prices did not really impact the food industry directly.
“When the price of fuel goes up and down, even suppliers don’t drastically change prices.
“We have to trust these people to do their costing – there’s always a check and balance,” he said.
Pan Malaysia Lorry Owners Association president Jong Foh Jit said the drop in fuel prices could not justify a reduction in transport fees due to rising spare part prices.
“We still cannot balance it out with the increase in spare part costs,” he added.
Fomca president Datuk N. Marimuthu welcomed the ministry’s determination to keep a close check on prices.
Marimuthu said Malaysia imported food products worth over RM40bil last year, adding that factors besides fuel cost affected prices of imported items.
“If there are severe floods in India, the price of beef from there may go up. The weakening of the ringgit is a major issue too because at some point, importers will have no choice, but to pay more.”
Malaysia Muslim Consumers Association chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan Johar urged the ministry to remain steadfast against traders, saying that the latter often used rising fuel costs to justify hikes.
“I urge the minister and his enforcement staff to send a clear message that they mean business,” he added.