Price hikes ruffle feathers

A member of the KPDNHEP enforcement team checking the price list displayed on the chiller for dressed chicken at a poultry stall in the Bayan Baru Market in Penang. All poultry sellers on Penang island are required to instal chillers to keep the chickens fresh under a new policy of the city council that is compulsory after Hari Raya. – LIM BENG TATT/The Star

THE Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) branch in Penang is not letting down its guard in weeding out unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the Hari Raya festive season to hike up prices of food items, especially controlled food products.

Its director Mohd Ridzuan Ab Ghapar said from the total 1,448 checks carried out during Ops Pantau, 14 notices involving a total fine of RM3,200 were issued under ‘Ops Rantaian Ayam’ to traders who had increased chicken prices during the festive season.

“Ops Pantau also saw 15 traders at public markets, supermarkets and agro markets being summoned since April 21 for various offences under the Price Control Act 2011, ” he said.

The checks were carried out under the ‘Skim Harga Maksimum Musim Perayaan Hari Raya Puasa’ (SHMMP).

The first phase was launched for 12 types of food products on April 19 and another 20 types of products on May 2.

“SHMMP for Hari Raya Puasa in Penang involves 29 types of food products including chicken, egg, meat, vegetables, dry food products and seafood, ” he said after a walkabout to check the prices of controlled food items at the Bayan Baru market yesterday.

“We have also carried out 2,841 schecks at all Ramadan bazaars and Pasar Aidil Fitri throughout Penang, ” he said.

Mohd Ridzuan noted that individuals could be fined up to RM100,000 or compounded RM50,000 with companies fined up to RM500,000 and compounded RM250,000 for increasing the prices of controlled food items.

The Star reported on April 30 that more than half of the chicken traders on Penang island had installed chillers and stopped slaughtering chickens at their stalls under a new ruling set by the Penang Island City Council.

Under the new policy, traders are required to instal chillers at poultry stalls in markets to maintain the freshness of the chickens at temperatures of between 0°C and 4°C. Otherwise, they can get their supply from a centralised storage and distribution centre.

The new policy received various objections and council has since deferred enforcement of the policy for poultry traders to instal the chillers.

Although the ruling is compulsory after Hari Raya, many poultry sellers have installed the chillers, thus incurring additional cost.

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