Price too low, face mask producer says will stop output

The new cap on the price of face masks will only benefit importers, says a local manufacturer. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A local manufacturer has expressed disappointment with the new RM1.50 ceiling price for face masks, saying it will only benefit importers, not domestic producers.

Haminnuddin Hamid, chief executive of Ideal Healthcare Sdn Bhd, said local manufacturers were disadvantaged because of higher import duties and costs for raw materials compared to finished products.

He told FMT his company will cease its production of face masks once it has used up all its available materials.

“This is simply because it is difficult to get raw materials from overseas as the price keeps increasing,” he said.

Haminnuddin said the company’s current capacity is 18 million pieces a year, and Ideal Healthcare accounts for about 25% of Malaysia’s domestic production.

“We are one of the 5 major manufacturers listed in the domestic trade ministry list before the national shutdown,” he said. The other producers are Medidata Sdn Bhd, Creative Contract Sdn Bhd, Cross Protection Sdn Bhd, and Medipro Sdn Bhd.

On Feb 7, domestic trade minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said manufacturers had been asked to increase production by an extra 400,000 pieces a day.

Face masks are a price-controlled item and the price of 3-ply surgical masks had been set at 80 sen each prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Haminnuddin had previously told FMT that material costs for the production of face masks had gone up by more than 600%. He had defended an increase of the ceiling price to RM2, announced by the domestic trade ministry last week.

However, senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced today that the price of face masks will be capped at RM1.50 apiece from April 1.

In response, a consumer group has urged that face masks be made an essential item, saying that the new price would prevent traders from taking advantage of the demand and increasing their prices.