pic by BLOOMBERG
PUTRAJAYA has pledged to further reduce the price of three-ply face masks earliest by the end of next month, as the country ramps up local capacity to meet consumer demand for the product.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi said the government will decide by the end of September or early October on a new ceiling price, which will be lower than the current retail ceiling price of RM1.
“We are looking to implement a new ceiling price within the next month or two after taking all views into consideration. I hope industry players will take note of the matter and not say we have not issued any notice.
“The reason we can further reduce the price is because we have adequate supply of face masks currently.
“We now have 10 face mask manufacturers nationwide compared to six previously. I am told that there will be four more manufacturers come October,” Nanta Linggi told the Dewan Rakyat.
He said the 10 manufacturers are able to produce 1.5 million face masks in total daily.
The minister was responding to Cha Kee Chin (Pakatan Harapan-Rasah) who asked whether the ceiling price would be lowered in stages given that adequate supply meant current prices are much cheaper than the ceiling price set.
The government has recently set the ceiling price for three-ply face masks at RM1 per piece, or RM50 per box, from RM1.50, while the wholesale price is now at 95 sen per unit, or RM47.50 per box, from RM1.45, effective Aug 15.
The new price cap was imposed following a move which made the wearing of face masks mandatory in crowded public areas and public transportation.
Nanta Linggi had previously said the ministry was looking to bring down the price further to between 70 sen and 80 sen a piece.
Meanwhile, Nanta Linggi said the same ceiling price will apply on children’s face masks as there were wastage costs to be borne by manufacturers.
He said this in response to a follow-up question by Cha on the matter.
“Our studies have so far shown that it is not possible to have a different rate for children’s face masks despite the smaller measure.
“However, we will continue to engage with all stakeholders to get the best price for both children and regular products,” he said.
Up until Aug 17, the ministry conducted a total of 50,778 price inspections at retail and wholesale outlets all over the country.
Authorities acted on 57 cases with a confiscation value of RM537,235, under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 and Control of Supplies Act 1961.