The call to ban is paramount as the nation may face a slowdown in mask production which inadvertently also spike mask prices
By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By ARIF KARTONO
MALAYSIA will ban the export of face masks soon to ensure enough supplies in the country, said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP).
Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi said the calls are paramount as the country may face a slowdown in mask production, which can also spike mask prices due to lower units of raw materials received since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Some components were brought in from Europe and China, which are currently facing worse outbreaks than Malaysia.
“It is not so easy for them to export to us. Meanwhile, four of our mask manufacturers are still working in their full capacity to increase production,” he told a media conference after officiating the first Tealive outlet at KPDNHEP in Putrajaya yesterday.
“We are heading towards an export ban very soon,” Nanta Linggi said.
Additionally, Nanta Linggi urged the public to not panic-buy including stocking up on face masks and hand sanitisers, which speeds up shortages of such items in the market.
Currently, hand sanitisers are not parked under the controlled items basket, unlike face masks.
Nanta Linggi said the ministry will monitor the situation and see if more items need to be controlled in the growth of coronavirus cases.
Face masks were put under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 since Feb 27 — the day that the second wave of Covid-19 was reported.
Face masks cover a range of surgical or medical masks from the one layer-type to the most expensive type, the N95.
“The prices of raw materials have gone up when they are imported and sold here, they will be more expensive. But, we need to ensure that they are still available for the people,” he said.
“We will look into whatever benefits the people, even if this means lifting the capped price. It is possible,” he added.
However, Nanta Linggi did not provide how many masks are being produced for the time being and how long the stock would last.
“But rest assured we are on top of this as we have decided to ban the export of masks,” he said.
On the issue of panic buying at many grocery outlets since Monday, the Kapit lawmaker pleaded to the people to remain calm and assured that essential items are enough for everyone.
Nanta Linggi said he had ordered the ministry’s 2,500 enforcement officers nation- wide to visit supermarkets and convenience stores to ensure that they restock essential items and do not raise prices.
For now, KPDNHEP has no plan to limit purchase per buyer to curb panic buying.
“However, if we deem it necessary, we will take appropriate measures,” Nanta Linggi said.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a live broadcast on Monday night, announced a nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) effective March 18 to 31, to curb the spread of Covid-19.
This is the first time such an order has been enforced in Malaysia.
The control order was made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967.