Do not engage in panic buying, MoFE tells public

Lyna Mohamad

The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) has advised the public not to engage in irrational panic purchasing and hoarding of household essentials, food items, face masks and hand sanitisers following the COVID-19 cases.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah advised members of the public to be considerate to other consumers who are truly in need.

This includes caregivers and frontlines so as to enable them to acquire the required items, added the minister.

He pointed out that the stock of rice with the Treasury Department is sufficient to meet the requirement, hence the public is advised not to purchase rice in large quantities more than their usual needs.

The public is also advised to respect the rationing if such measures are put in place by retailers on a temporary basis.

As for the prices of face mask and hand sanitisers, the minister noted that the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is continuously monitoring the prices to ensure ethical business practices are in place. To date, DCCA has received 31 consumer complaints related to the increase in prices of face masks and hand sanitisers.

Prices of specific face masks and hand sanitiser from several business premises have been uploaded to the PenggunaBijak mobile app and the DCCA website to enhance price transparency and for public reference.

The DCCA and Treasury Department will continue to monitor the situation in the market and seek business cooperation and support to address the panic buying behaviour. The public may raise their related concerns through the 24-hour consumer hotline under Darussalam Line 123 or contact the Treasury Department at 2383666 ext 77788 during office hours for rice and sugar supplies related matters.

Answering to a question of the price hike of some sellers taking advantage of the situation, the minister said some items are not under the price control of Department of Economic Planning and Statistics, however the department will continuously monitor the price particularly for face masks, hand sanitisers and other items needed by the public.

The MoFE always provides the budget for the purchase of medical equipment such as COVID-19 Test Kit or other equipment needed for hospitals. It was shared that the MoFE has allocated a budget of BND15 million for disasters and cases like COVID-19.