Lower face mask ceiling price to 80 sen, says ex-deputy minister

Chong Chieng Jen says the poor and those with large families will have higher expenses if the ceiling price of a face mask is fixed at RM1.20. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former domestic trade and consumer affairs deputy minister Chong Chieng Jen has called on the government to lower the ceiling price of the three-ply face mask to RM0.80 a piece given that the cost of production has normalised.

Chong said the recently announced ceiling price of RM1.20 per face mask effective Aug 15 was still expensive.

“The new price is still high and not affordable to many. It is 50% higher than when Pakatan Harapan was the government. The ceiling price of the three-ply face mask was only RM0.80 per piece then,” he said in a statement today.

At the current rate, he said, a family of five with working parents and school going children would end up having to incur an additional RM150 a month in household expenses.

“It is surely a heavy burden on the poor families, especially those who are living from hand to mouth. If they fail to comply, they will be fined RM1,000 per person,” he said.

The government has mandated the use of face masks in crowded public places beginning August 1.

Chong said the RM1.20 ceiling price would also expose consumers to exploitation by traders, especially now that the government had made it mandatory to use face masks in public places.

“Since June this year, the global supply of face masks has adjusted sufficiently to cater to the increase in the demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Now, the cost of production for face masks has normalised to the pre-Covid time, and the previous ceiling price of RM0.80 per piece for the three-ply face mask should apply. It will also give traders comfortable profit margins to operate.”

He said setting the ceiling price at RM1.20 per piece would give the impression that RM1.20 was a reasonable retail price, notwithstanding the huge profit margin now that production costs had gone down.

“This is detrimental to the interest of consumers,” he added.