Don’t hike prices of face masks, ministry warns traders

Three types of face masks are on sale, with the triple-layer surgical masks recommended for general use to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Stern action will be taken against traders who indiscriminately increase the price of face masks to take advantage of the current outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the domestic trade ministry said today.

The ministry’s secretary-general, Muez Abd Aziz, said face masks are on the price control list, where the maximum ceiling price has been fixed on five types of face masks.

Muez said the price of the face mask or surgical mask varies, depend on the type.

There are three types with earlobes:

  • one-layered mask at RM5 per box (wholesale) or RM7 per box (retail).
  • two-layered mask, sold for RM8 per box (wholesale) or RM10 per box (retail), or 20 sen per piece, he said.
  • three-layered surgical mask is sold for RM25 per box or 80 sen per piece.

Two other types of surgical mask are:

  • three-layered hijab-friendly mask, which is RM30 per box or 80 sen per piece;
  • N95 face mask which can be bought for RM100 per box or RM6 per piece.

He said legal action could be taken against the errant traders: they could face a maximum fine of RM100,000, or imprisonment for up to three years, or both, if found guilty, while companies could be fined up to RM500,000 or compound up to RM250,000, if found guilty.

Muez said it should be noted that besides the five types of face masks where the ceiling price has been fixed, the ministry also has the power to take action under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 against those who indiscriminately increased the price of other types of face masks.

He said the ministry would continue its ongoing monitoring by the 2,300 enforcement officers and would take stern action against errant traders.