KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will not drop steel products from its controlled price items list.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Government had never considered this move despite the four main steel factories in the country producing twice the demand for the country.
We will still control the prices of steel products and this decision is indefinite. I urge steel producers and distributors to quell such rumours, he said at the weekly post-Cabinet press conference.
He said rumours were going around that the Government would lift its control on steel prices. The Government had increased ceiling prices of billets a fortnight ago by RM90 per metric tonne across the board.
Contractors and developers have complained to the ministry that despite this increase, they have not been able to get a regular supply of products for their construction projects.
Muhyiddin said he had directed the ministrys enforcement division to conduct checks at the factories and distribution premises and to take action against hoarders under the Supply Control Act 1961.
On the proposal to standardise halal logo and certification, he said most states agreed to the setting up of an authority to approve halal certification and logo nationwide and for foreign companies.
Currently, every state presides over halal certification and logo within its own borders and it can be tedious, he said.
He said with such an authority, application for halal certification could be approved after the premises or products were tested by food specialists or biotechnologists to ensure the truth of the claim.
He said bureaucracy would be minimised for companies that wanted to apply for certification, especially the foreign concerns.
Muhyiddin said current world demand for halal food was about RM1.7tril annually and the demand was growing rapidly.
The minister also announced a 1.4% increase in the Consumer Price Index due to increases in transport, communications and energy from January to March this year as compared to the same period in 2002.
Despite the increase, our inflation rate is still under 2%, which proves that the pricing and supply mechanism administered by the Government is successful in averting sudden price increases that would burden consumers, he said.