Get to the bottom of hike in food prices, Putrajaya told

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association says prices of goods are unlikely to drop despite the decrease in fuel prices. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Consumer and restaurant associations have urged Putrajaya to get to the bottom of the increase in prices for goods such as meat and vegetables despite the fall in fuel prices by going after anyone taking advantage of the situation.

Ayob Khan, president of Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association, said the government could not come after them as they themselves were at the receiving end.

“We are still absorbing the cost of the price increase, but how long can we do this?” he added.

Speaking to FMT, he said the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry should go after manufacturers and suppliers, as well as those in the production line.

It makes no sense for the price of raw vegetables and meat to spike “by at least a few percent”, he said, adding that the association was in the dark over the reasons for this.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution had reportedly said the drop in fuel prices would principally lower the cost of manufacturing goods, which should be followed by a decrease in price for certain consumer items.

He also said the ministry was responsible for controlling policies and enforcing the law, while lowering the cost of living depended on business operators practising good business ethics as well.

But Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman told FMT that prices of goods were unlikely to drop despite the decrease in fuel prices.

He cited the previous situation under the Barisan Nasional government, which had implemented a weekly managed float system for fuel prices.

The system was reinstated by the Pakatan Harapan government last week.

It is based on the average world price of crude oil, which means the retail price of RON95 and diesel will fluctuate according to global prices.

Yusof said prices of consumer goods had yet to decrease as traders were clueless about the direction of fuel prices for the following week.

He, too, urged the government to look into the situation.

“A fall in fuel prices should also lead to lower transportation costs. If this is not happening, the ministry should speak to the industry players and ask why the prices of goods haven’t come down.

“Who is the culprit?”

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations CEO Paul Selvaraj suggested that the ministry begin probing the prices, starting with the retailers.

“From there, the probe could move up to suppliers, the transportation and production sector, and finally the manufacturers.”

He said it was likely that traders were taking advantage of the situation, which might compel the ministry to enforce the matter through the Anti-Profiteering Act.