PETALING JAYA: Hawkers are claiming that the sudden surge in the price of ingredients has forced them to charge consumers more.
Federation of Malaysian Hawkers Association president Datuk Lee Teong Chwee admitted that members raised their prices because everything else had become expensive last month.
The federation has more than 100,000 members nationwide.
“Hawkers are struggling to cope with the unexpected spike in the cost of meat, vegetables and seafood,” he said, adding that fuel costs were not a factor.
“Hawkers only spend between RM50 and RM100 on fuel per month, so it is a minor expense,” he said.
Lee said hawkers could not charge as they pleased because competition was stiff and they could end up losing customers.
“The price rise is usually gradual but the recent hike was due to a drastic increase in costs. We have no other choice.
“Once prices are raised, we won’t review them again until the next few years even if one or two items suddenly become more expensive,” he said.
Pudu Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Jeff Tan said fuel prices had no impact on hawkers.
“We have been suffering with some greens costing up to 300% more.
“So far, we in the Pudu area have not raised our prices yet although the portions might be smaller.
“But customers should be prepared to pay between RM1 and RM2 more next month because of Chinese New Year,” he said, adding that the increase would be to cover the overtime cost of workers.
Federation of Northern Hawkers Associations’ deputy chairman Lam Tong Ying said on average, its more than 1,000 members increased prices by 50 sen since November last year.
The federation’s members are from Penang, Perlis, Perak and Kedah.
“The price of fuel may have dropped recently but the price of ingredients like sugar, vegetables and everything else have doubled.
“Even with a 50-sen rise, profit margins continue to drop,” Lam, who is also chairman of the Federation of Penang Hawkers, said.
He advised hawkers not to raise prices after this.
“Please don’t use Chinese New Year or the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a reason,” he said.
Federation of Malaysian Consumer Association secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said the drop in fuel prices should result in cheaper ingredients as transportation and production costs would be lower.
He slammed hawkers who over-burdened consumers to make excessive profits.
On Jan 7, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek said the Government was unable to control the prices of goods despite the drop in fuel prices.
He said the ministry could only act as a monitoring body to ensure the prices of essential items were under control and protected from manipulation, speculation or hoarding.