Ministry monitoring price hike

Izah Azahari

The Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (DEPS), Ministry of Finance and Economy is monitoring the price increase of goods, in particular face masks, hand sanitisers, cooking oil, rice, baby formula, chicken, beef, eggs and garlic, 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 said.

He said consumers should use the PenggunaBijak application to compare prices and options as the price of goods varies from a store to another, subject to factors such as source of supply, quality and capacity.

“It is hoped that the application will help users in making price comparisons and make the right choice,” he told yesterday’s press briefing.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said in cooperation with DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), DEPS has carried out monitoring of stock levels of basic goods including face masks and hand sanitisers at the supplier and retailer levels.

He said so far stocks of fragrant rice are adequate while storage stock has been increased to eight months.

The country has an adequate supply of chicken, meat and eggs as the goods can be obtained based on the availability in grocery stores and supermarkets while other items such as face masks, hand sanitisers, cooking oil and formula milk are found to be adequate in the market especially at the retail level so far; and at the supplier level, he said.

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. PHOTO: JAMES KON

The main importers of dried food have sufficient stocks of around one to three months depending on the product and shelf life, such as cooking oil, powdered milk, frozen food, and canned food including food that have a high demand such as canned sardines, chicken curry and meat.

Importers also seek to diversify their sources of supply by obtaining alternative suppliers or brands to reduce the impact of price increases and supply chain disruptions, the minister said.

Items such as face masks and personal hygiene goods are considered basic necessities during this pandemic situation, the minister said.

He said DEPS advises businesses to sell goods at a reasonable and affordable price, and not to take the opportunity to increase the price of goods and will take action against businesses doing it without reason.

“In this case, the DEPS will instruct business to present information and justification on the increase in the price of the goods if the selling price is considered too high and unreasonable,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

“Businesses are also advised to consider temporary measures such as rationing to ensure an adequate supply,” the minister said.

DEPS is constantly monitoring the prices and stocks of certain basic necessities on a weekly basis since December 2020. Information from this is shared with the public and posted on the DEPS website, PenggunaBijak applications and social media.

In the PenggunaBijak application, a list of business companies that have stocks of the basic goods are available to create price transparency as well as to enable the public to know the prices and options available in the market from this price list information.

DEPS requests for continued cooperation from businesses to provide accurate and correct price and stock information as providing false information to government officials and staff is an offence punishable under Chapter 177 of the Criminal Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to six months or a fine of BND4,000, or both.

Any issues and consumer affairs related to the business practices of unethical businesses, the public can contact DEPS via Darussalam line at 123 or WhatsApp to 8333123. Consumer complaints can also be channelled through PenggunaBijak or e-mail to [email protected]