Ramakrishnan: Increase in prices of food items also happening in other countries

Many Singaporeans come to Johor Baru to shop, especially on weekends and this helps to boost local economy. - Filepic

JOHOR BARU: A hike in prices of food items is not new or unusual in Malaysia. The situation is also happening in other countries.

State unity, domestic trade and consumerism committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan said there were other factors which contributed to the escalating prices of goods in the country.

He said the factors included the weakening of ringgit against major currencies, demand and supply, weather, monopoly and protectionism.

“We have no problem with prices of controlled food items as the authorities are continuously monitoring the situation to ensure controlled food items are not sold at higher prices, ’’ said Ramakrishnan.

He added that Malaysia was among several countries in the world that did not use the price-controlled mechanism on most food items as it practised free economy.

The only basic items controlled by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) are cooking oil, sugar, flour, cooking gas, diesel and petroleum.

The ministry would control certain food items during major celebrations in the country namely Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas.

“Consumers should be wiser and only shop at places which they think offer fair prices and boycott those that they feel are making excessive profit, ’’ said Ramakrishnan.

He also suggested that the Federal Government review the current minimum wage of RM920 to RM1, 100 for a more realistic figure to reflect the real economic situation.

“Consumers are feeling the pinch as they have to fork out more money to buy food as our ringgit is weakening, ’’ said Ramakrishnan.

He added that locals also cited Johor Baru’s close proximity to Singapore as the main reason prices of goods and services in Johor Baru was higher compared with other districts in the state.

Ramakrishnan said that at the same time businesses in Johor Baru benefitted from the situation as Malaysians working in the republic and living here have a strong purchasing power as they earned in Singapore currency.

“We also receive many Singaporeans who come here to shop and this also helps to boost local economy, ’’ he said.

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