Govt to rope in co-ops to tackle rising prices of goods

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail addresses a press conference after chairing the National Action Council on Cost of Living meeting in Putrajaya today. With her is Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail. (Bernama pic.)

PUTRAJAYA: The government today proposed to rope in cooperatives to help in the implementation of the 100 basic goods programme aimed at alleviating the rising cost of living.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the programme was expected to reduce the prices of goods and the role of the middleman while encouraging the production of essential goods.

“The cooperatives, with a membership of 6.1 million as of June 30 last year, plus their 2,500 outlets, can play a role in wholesale, retail and agricultural development programmes.

“Wholesale and retail will involve the consolidation and development of cooperative products, while agriculture will involve farming, fisheries, vegetables and fruits, as well as agricultural input,” she said at a press conference after chairing the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL) meeting here today.

Also present were Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, his deputy Chong Chieng Jen, and Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Saifuddin later explained that the cooperatives would first scrutinise consumers’ buying patterns and come up with a list of frequently bought essential goods.

These goods would later be sold at lower prices, he said.

However, Saifuddin said the programme differed from that of KR1M outlets or 1Malaysia grocery stores, where the previous government had appointed Mydin as the prime mover and opened 180 premises with an allocation of RM300 million.

That programme has since been rebranded as Inisiatif Kedai Ekonomi Pengguna (i-KeeP) after its failure to rake in sales, with consumers opting not to buy as the choices of goods were limited.

i-KeeP offers essential goods at prices which are between 3% and 20% lower than market prices, at premises operated by strategic partners involved in the initiative.

The government aims to have 500 outlets by next year.

Wan Azizah also revealed several decisions made by the council to address the rising cost of living. These included accepting a proposal by the transport ministry, through the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD), to enforce the licensing of terminals and regulating the charges to be imposed by terminal operators based on the quality of terminal services and facilities.

“NACCOL has made it clear that the implementation of this proposal must consider the interest of consumers and not burden them,” she said.

She said the council had also agreed to the transport ministry’s proposal to review Electric Train Services (ETS) fares by abolishing fare control and implementing a dynamic fare structure.

Wan Azizah announced the inclusion of new members into NACCOL, namely Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, Jeli MP Mustapa Mohamed, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn Bhd (MDEC) chief executive officer Surina Shukri and Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha.