Govt to engage public to monitor price hike

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BLOOMBERG

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) suggests that the public be more engaged in the government’s effort in combating price hike issues that might arise during the Sales and Services Tax (SST) implementation next month.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said although the ministry is ready and empowered with 2,300 enforcement officers and 1,044 officers to monitor pricing in the market, the public’s information is also essential as they are directly affected by the increase of price.

“With the population of 30 million people in the country, the number is disproportionate compared to the number of our officers and we seek them to be part of our eyes and ears.

“I have also asked my officers to facilitate the complains mechanism, including allowing the public to send pictures via mobile phone, if they

found any suspected price hike items with receipts, directly to the ministry,” he told reporters after the launch of the Companies Commission of Malaysia National Conference 2018 in Subang yesterday.

According to Saifuddin Nasution, the ministry will focus on 417 essential items in the market, out of the 6,400 proposed items to be taxed by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department.

Among them are wet and dry products, as well as infant essential items such as diapers and baby formula milk.

As of last week, the ministry enforcement team has inspected up to 1,688 premises on those items and found that 70% of the items’ prices have dropped between 0.04% and 13% due to the free tax period.

He said the government is also ready to reveal the prices to the public as reference and price comparison between pre and post-SST implementation. “We are also currently having a mobile application named “Price Catcher” which allows consumers to compare prices of the goods sold at various

outlets and locations,” he said. SST is replacing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which ceased to take effect in the end of May.

About 5,000 items are proposed to be exempted in the SST system. The number is ten times higher than the GST regime, which was only around 500 items.

Saifuddin Nasution said the ministry will double up its enforcement works to ensure consumer rights be held accordingly.

“It will be our main focus to control and monitor this matter,” he said.

He added that the ministry is also looking to work with supermarkets to promote and support low price campaign in the fourth quarter this year.

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