Govt to lower face mask retail price to RM1

The reductions are possible due to better supply conditions, says minister

pic by TMR FILE

THE Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry will further reduce the ceiling price of three-ply face masks to RM1 per unit while the wholesale price for the product will be lowered to 95 sen.

Its Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, however, did not set a timeline for the new price.

He told the Dewan Rakyat that the added reductions were possible due to better supply conditions.

He said the government was adopting a soft-landing approach to ensure stocks already brought in at a higher price can be sold.

“This price was decided after consulting all the manufacturers, retailers and other stakeholders. The government, however, is open to lowering the price again when necessary,” Nanta Linggi said.

He was responding to Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Stampin) who asked why the ceiling price of masks was raised to RM1.50 from 80 sen pre-pandemic.

Nanta Linggi said the initial gazetted retail and wholesale price ceilings of RM1.50 and RM1.45 were decided after considering transport costs and higher raw material costs due to a weaker ringgit.

At the time, he said 80 sen was not enough to cover production costs borne by local manufacturers.

The higher ceiling prices and demand for three-ply face masks led to increased imports from China, which he said have helped in meeting local demand and to stabilise prices.

The Finance Ministry has also exempted mask manufacturers and importers from import duties and sales tax to minimise costs.

The Cabinet has agreed to lower the ceiling price of the product to RM1.20 from RM1.50 while the wholesale rate will be capped at RM1.15 from RM1.45 effective Aug 15.

The new price cap came following the government’s move to make wearing face masks mandatory in crowded public areas and public transportation effective Aug 1.

The Kapit MP expected prices to go down further and said the government will review the matter from time to time, hoping that the move would help alleviate some burden on parents who are required to buy face masks for their school-going children.

The Borneo Post Online recently reported DAP Batu Kitang branch chairman Abdul Aziz Isa Abdul Aziz as saying that the price of face masks was a big burden for Sarawakians as many continue to earn below-average income.

He said global face masks supply has made sufficient adjustments since June to cater to increasing demand.

Abdul Aziz said production costs should have normalised to pre-coronavirus prices, and that the previous ceiling price of 80 sen could still give traders a very comfortable profit margin.