by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic TMR File
ECONOMY Minister Rafizi Ramli said the country’s inflation rate has reached a stable level and is unlikely to peak during upcoming Hari Raya festivities.
He said Malaysia has surpassed peak inflation in September 2022 and currently has a chance to bring our inflation to between 3.1 to 3.3% by year-end following the current trend of month on month decrease.
“Even if it is down 0.1 % each month, but if the inflation rate is consistently decreasing we can stabilise it to 3.3% and have the opportunity to bring down the inflation level around 3.1 to 3.3% the national target level,” Rafizi said during the press conference on Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in Putrajaya today.
However, the Pandan MP said this would also depend on the supply chain disruption or local influences, for example, the weather condition referring to the flood incident that affected the demand for vegetables previously.
For February, Malaysia’s inflation rate remains at 3.7%, similar to the rate announced during the previous month January. This brings the increase in inflation for February 2023 is 0.2%, unchanged proportion from the previous month.
“The main contributor to inflation in February 2023 is still (the) category of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages (7.0%) due to floods increasing the price of vegetables, as well as the Restaurant and Hotel category (7.4%) due to the increase of domestic and international visitors,” he said.
Rafizi added he did not expect abrupt inflation on prices during this peak festivity as the previous Chinese New Year festive season was under control.
“Even if the hike takes place during upcoming hari raya, it won’t be a drastic hike to the point that from 3.7% now, hike to over 4.0% for example.
“This is because the high in product demand should be in certain categories for example partly from the raw material as well as clothing retails,” he added.
For a short term measure, Rafizi announced an initiative between a local organisation – KitaJaga which provides a system to enable users to compare the retail prices of their groceries in the market to strengthen their purchasing power.
“The Kita Jaga app will track and allow the public to compare the retail price of their groceries and hopefully push the retailer to offer competitive prices in the market as more of them participate in the platform,” Rafizi added.
The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DosM) last week had in their statement said the food and non-alcoholic beverages group contributed 29.5% of the total CPI, noting that out of the 230 food items, 203 items or 88.3 per cent recorded price increases.
The platform is utilising the open data source available in the OpenDOSM website that was launched a few months prior.
Despite the initiative, Rafizi emphasised that the main issue for inflation is less about the price but the challenges it brings against low income per household, especially among the group that earn less.