KUALA LUMPUR: The "Jihad against Inflation” move initiated by the government almost a month ago is already showing positive results, say experts.
The Special Task Force on Jihad against Inflation, according to experts, is on the right track to deal with the rising cost of living, an issue Malaysians have been grappling with lately.
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The team’s commitment to tackling inflation is reflected through the various initiatives it has taken, including providing subsidies as well as monitoring and carrying out enforcement activities through the relevant ministries.
The Special Task Force on Jihad against Inflation, which was set up on June 29 and chaired by Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, was created to help Malaysians to deal with the rising cost of living.
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The team also comprises Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economics) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.
Recently, media reports quoted Annuar as saying that the special task force is determined to control and keep the country’s inflation and food prices at low rates.
He said it took note that Malaysia’s inflation had increased by 3.4% between June 2021 and June this year.
He assured that the task force would make continuous efforts by implementing certain drastic measures to deal with inflation and these (measures) will be announced from time to time.
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The Statistics Department of Malaysia had previously announced that Malaysia’s consumer price index had gone up by 3.4% to 127.4 in June this year compared with 123.2 in June 2021, surpassing the average inflation in Malaysia for the January 2011 to June 2022 period by 1.9%.
Senior lecturer at the Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Dr Raja Rizal Iskandar Raja Hisham described the setting up of the special task force as a relevant move in these uncertain times in respect of the nation’s economy.
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He said its main focus should be on controlling food prices in order to safeguard the welfare of the people.
"It is necessary to establish such a task force because problems related to inflation and cost of living have been impacting the people since last year.
"It’s probable that prior to this the relevant (government) agencies have been focusing on implementing the minimum wage to help the people deal with the cost of living but (it appears that) it is the impact of inflation that has been putting pressure on nearly all communities,” he told Bernama.
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He said the special task force can play a role in looking for solutions from the grassroots level onwards and finding out why certain goods have been seeing unreasonable price hikes.
Among the latest efforts taken by the team to address inflation is gazetting the maximum retail price for cooking oil (palm oil) sold in bottles.
This decision was made in view of the reluctance of bottled cooking oil producers to reduce the price in spite of the decline in palm oil prices.
Malaysia’s existing laws enable the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to gazette the maximum retail prices of certain essential items.
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As for the maximum retail price of palm cooking oil, the ministry will set the price based on the price of crude palm oil in the global market.
Raja Rizal Iskandar also said that the special task force can function more effectively if it works closely with communities so that information pertaining to any shortage of food items like eggs or price hikes in any area can be relayed to the team for detailed investigation.
"This approach will also help (the government) to identify irresponsible traders who are profiteering while the entire nation is facing the threat of inflation,” he added.
His views were shared by Dr Ariff Azly Muhamed, senior lecturer at Universiti Teknologi MARA’s Department of Technology and Supply Chain Management Studies, who said that checking profiteering activities will minimise the effects of price hikes brought about by inflation.
"We must admit that the rise in the inflation rate is something that’s hard to avoid, but if profiteering activities are curbed it will have a positive impact and prices of goods will come under control,” he said.
Urging Malaysians to give space to the special task force to resolve the issues related to inflation, Ariff Azly said the creation of the team is a preliminary step in the government’s efforts to address inflation.
"I’m confident that if the scope of its jurisdiction is expanded and strengthened, it will be able to resolve the issues related to inflation.
"There are many more measures this team can take... if it continues to be committed to its jihad (against inflation), I’m sure this special task force will realise its goals,” he added.
Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said in a statement that the special task force to address inflation is a holistic cross-ministerial approach formulated by the government to enable the people to have a better understanding of the situation plaguing the nation.
He added that the setting up of the task force demonstrates the government's deep concern in resolving the increasingly pressing issues faced by the people. - Bernama