Ministry is finalising the appointment of transportation contractors through an open tender exercise
by DASHVEENJIT KAUR & AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA
The prices of essential goods in Sarawak and Sabah will be standardised with those in the peninsula on April 1 onwards to eliminate price discrepancies and reduce cost of living in East Malaysia.
Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Chong Chieng Jen (picture) said the ministry is finalising the appointment of transportation contractors through an open tender exercise.
“The price standardisation programme will be implemented by April, slightly delayed from the original plan as the government needs time to appoint the transporter to deliver the items to the rural area.
“An open tender process is much more transparent instead of direct negotiations, although open tender consumes much more time to complete,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He was responding to Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Anak Kumbong who asked of the government’s take on the rising cost of basic necessities in rural areas in East Malaysia, despite the abolishment of the Goods and Services Tax.
“We are in our final stage in valuing the proposals and by April 1, we will exercise the price standardisation programme in both Sabah and Sarawak,” Chong said.
According to the deputy minister, the standardisation will also result in the government absorbing the cost of goods shipping from the peninsula to Sarawak and Sabah.
The overall cost to bear can reach up to RM150 million annually, he added.
To recap, in Budget 2019 announced last November, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said via the standardisation initiative, the government is expected to absorb transportation cost to channel seven basic necessity goods: Flour, packets of cooking oil, rice, sugar, RON95 petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas.
Chong aslo said the ministry has some 1,400 contract workers to monitor price increases nationwide.
“However, a balance is needed to ensure prices are not too low which would in turn adversely affect the farmers’, fishermen’s and planters’ incomes,” he said.
He added that the ministry will also look into adding more necessary goods into the list of price-controlled items.