Ministry digs deep to unearth root cause of veggie price hikes

Penang Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry director Mohd Ridzuan Ab Ghapar (in white) checking the latest price of vegetable during a walkabout at Sunshine Square Bayan Baru in Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: A total of 100 checks have been conducted on traders and premises by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to get to the bottom of vegetable price increases.

The ministry's Penang director Mohd Ridzuan Ab Ghapar said the checks were conducted during Ops Pasar from Nov 27 following reports that vegetable retail prices had gone up around the country.

"Since the operation, a total of 20 notices of verification of goods and 10 written notices under Section 21 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act were issued to get details of vegetable prices," he said.

Mohd Ridzuan said those who were issued the notices have from two to five days to provide feedback to the ministry.

He said among the vegetables that have seen price increases were mustard greens, round cabbage, beans, broccoli, red and green chillies, and cauliflower.

He said monitoring by ministry officials also detected a 100% increase in the price of vegetables sold in wet markets.

He believed that the increase was only temporary and was influenced by several factors including the weather.

Some vegetable prices had gone down such as tomatoes and broccoli, he noted on Wednesday (Dec 1) after visiting Bayan Baru market and Sunshine Square Mall to conduct a check on prices of vegetables and other items at the two premises.

"If there are items sold at high prices we will issue a notice and investigate why the traders increased the price," he said.

He said the ministry has also engaged with the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry to identify the real cause of the price increase.

He said his ministry was also in the midst of conducting Ops Menu from Nov 6 to Dec 31 to tackle the issue of price manipulation and rigged scales by conducting checks at restaurants and eateries.

He said during the operation so far, a total of 372 checks were conducted across the state and two instances of price manipulation were found, for which compound notices totalling RM500 were issued.

He said eatery operators and hawkers were reminded to always comply with the rules and regulations especially on the display of prices and weights to help customers know the exact price when ordering food.

He also reminded traders to adhere to the rules to avoid facing legal action, including being charged in court or issued compound notices.

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