KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The hikes in the prices of goods are not caused by cartels but due to the inefficiencies in supply chains, said Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Datuk Rosol Wahid (pic).
He said the finding was the outcome of a study conducted by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) through the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) on the food sector market which focused on several items of goods such as beef, mackerel, round cabbage and others.
"An example of an inefficiency is when goods from Cameron Highlands for sale in Tapah are forced to come to Kuala Lumpur first, then only go to Tapah.
"Similarly, goods from Johor for sale in Negeri Sembilan must come here (Kuala Lumpur). The study also found that mackerel were passed through seven to eight middlemen. Imagine, if one level of middleman takes a 20% profit. So, by how many per cent will the price go up?
"So, our finding.. no cartel has resulted in the prices going up.. too many middlemen," he said this when winding up the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in Dewan Negara here on Thrusday (Oct 21).
Answering a question from Senator Dr Yaakob Sapari on whether the government was prepared to amend existing competition laws, Rosol said, to date, the issue of cartels did not arise and existing acts such as the Competition Act 2010 had the power over the issue of monopoly.
He said in order to reduce the impact of price increases especially in rural and interior areas, KPDNHEP had implemented various initiatives including a price standardisation programme and essential goods distribution programme such as rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar, diesel, RON95 petrol and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as community drumming.
"For example, this year, 802 rural areas were involved in the essential items distribution programme and community drumming whereby an additional 137 areas benefited from this programme.
"Among the new areas are Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang in Terengganu and Pulau Tioman, Kuala Tahan and Kampung Bantal di Pahang.
"Overall, to date, over 1.23 million rural and interior residents benefited from this programme through a RM200mil allocation annually," he said.
He also urged the public to become smart consumers by planning their purchases, being aware of consumer rights as well as to direct their complaints to the correct channels.
Meanwhile, answering a question from Senator Datuk Razali Idris on whether the government was prepared to give a 50% subsidy for the purchase of Covid-19 self-test kits especially to the B40 and M40 groups, Rosol said the government had no plans on the matter so far.
"We plan to expanding its availability so that it is not just sold by pharmacies and clinics.
"Until today, the self-test kit is retailed at RM19.90 each and RM16 via wholesale..we hope the price will reduce once availability is increased," he added. - Bernama