KUALA LUMPUR: An opposition MP said the amendment to the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act will not be able to curb any increase in the cost of goods.
Rafizi Ramli (PKR-Pandan) said this is because the amendment was not looking at the real issues with the price increase starting from the supply side, and not retail.
“Therefore, enforcement officers will not be able to stop the price hike,” he said during a debate in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He said ideally in an open economy, prices are determined by supply and demand.
“But that is if the market is totally open,” the PKR vice-president said.
Rafizi also concurred with William Leong (PKR-Selayang) that prices increase due to government APs being used for the supply of some food items too.
Leong had earlier told the House there were over 726 APs issued to import sugar that resulted in the price of sugar going up even before the basic food item had reached the retail market for consumers.
Rafizi said the government APs were also effecting the price of cabbage.
“Everyone knows there is an AP for cars but many do not know the effects of it on food items,” he said.
Rafizi conceded that he understood the government’s intention to have a balance when it comes to suppliers of basic food items so that the supply is stable and it is carried out in the long term.
“The supplier would also look at the market price of goods. But just because (the food items) have a stable and continuous supply, the AP is then misused to limit competition, thereby becoming a monopoly,” he said, warning that it could result in people having to pay more.
On another note, Rafizi also said the country was not facing deficit due to the giving out of subsidies but due to projects that were not handled well.
“Another reason for the increase in prices was due to the implementation of the goods and services tax,” he said.
However, Noor Azmi Ghazali (BN-Bagan Serai) stood up and said the topic of goods and services tax (GST) was not new and had been brought up before by former finance ministers, including Anwar Ibrahim, Daim Zainuddin and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was also prime minister.
To this, Rafizi agreed that the topic of GST was brought up since the 1980s.
“The difference was that those ministers knew that it will burden the public and due to that did not implement it,” he said, before calling for the matter to be brought to the cabinet for a discussion.
The amendment to the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act seeks to require any person who displays, advertises, publishes or quotes or causes to be displayed, advertised, published or quoted the prices of any goods or charges for any services to include in the prices or charges all government taxes, duties and charges and all other charges which are to be imposed by the person on his goods or services.
This is to overcome the display of prices or charges that are subject to multiple additional charges, resulting in higher final prices or charges to be paid by consumers.