Global Supply Adjusted Sufficiently,Chong Call Upon PN Government To Lower The Ceiling Price Of Face Masks

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Press Statement:

With the mandatory use of facemasks in public places, the government should lower the price ceiling for facemasks to at least the pre-Covid-19 times.

When I was the deputy minister of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), the price ceiling for 3-ply face masks was only RM0.80 per piece (retail price).

During the MCO, the Minister increased the price ceiling for 3-ply face masks to RM1.50. (That itself was a mistake). The Minister recently announced in Parliament that the price ceiling will be lowered to RM1.20 per piece with effect from 15-8-2020.

The proposed price ceiling of RM1.20 is still way too high and not affordable to many. It is 50% higher than when PH was the government. The high price ceiling will expose the consumers to exploitation by the traders, especially given now that the government has made it mandatory to use facemasks in public places.

To the new minister of KPDNHEP, RM1.50 per piece of 3-ply facemask may not be expensive, but to many, it is a burden. Imagine a family of 5, both working husband and wife and 3 school-going children.

RM1.50 per piece per day would mean RM7.50 per day, take 25 days in a month that they need to go out, that adds up to RM187.50 per month of additional household expenses. 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 imposed with RM1,000 fine per person.

Since June, this year, the global supply of facemasks had adjusted sufficiently to cater to the increase in the demand therefor due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the costs for production for facemasks have normalized to the pre-Covid time, and the previous price ceiling of RM0.80 per piece of 3-ply facemasks can give traders very comfortable profit margins to operate.

Even though the costs of production for facemasks have lowered tremendously to pre-Covid-19 times, with the government setting the price ceiling of RM1.20 per piece, it gives the impression that RM1.20 is a reasonable retail price notwithstanding the huge profit margin with this price. This is detrimental to the interest of consumers in general.

Therefore, I call upon the Government to lower the price ceiling of facemask to the pre-Covid time.

4-8-2020
Chong Chieng Jen
DAP Sarawak Chairman