By Emma Victoria
THE government should lower the ceiling price for face masks, making it more affordable following the mandatory use of face masks in public areas.
Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) increased the ceiling price for the 3-ply face mask from 80 sen to RM1.50 each during the Movement Control Order, which was a mistake itself.
“When I was the deputy minister, it was only 80 sen per piece for retail price. But, it was later increased to RM1.50 following the pandemic,” he said.
Although the KPDNHEP Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi had recently announced in Parliament that the ceiling price will be lowered to RM1.20 starting Aug 15, it is still not affordable to many.
“The proposed ceiling price of RM1.20 is still way too high and not affordable to many. It is 50 percent higher than when Pakatan Harapan was the government.
“The high ceiling price will expose consumers to exploitation by traders, especially now that the government has made it mandatory to use face masks in public places,” he said in a statement.
The Stampin MP said the global supply of face masks had adjusted sufficiently to cater to the increase in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The cost for producing face masks has also normalised to the pre-Covid times, and the previous ceiling price of 80 sen for a 3-ply face mask gives traders very comfortable profit margins to operate.”
Chong, who is also the Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said RM1.50 per mask may not be expensive for the minister, but to many it is indeed a burden.
Citing a family of five as an example, with husband and wife working and three school-going children, it would mean that they need to fork out an additional RM7.50 per day or RM187.50 per month (for 25 working days) per household.
“It is surely a heavy burden to the poor families, especially those who are living from hand to mouth. If they failed to comply, they will be fined RM1,000 per person.”
He said even though the production cost for face masks had come down, it gives the impression that RM1.20 is a reasonable retail price despite the huge profit margin at this price.
“This is detrimental to the interest of consumers in general.”
“Therefore, I call upon the government to lower the price ceiling of facemasks to pre-Covid time, which is 80 sen,” he said.