PETALING JAYA: An aide to Rafizi Ramli has explained the economic affairs minister’s take on controlling inflation and the cost of living, after he was criticised in a letter to FMT.
Rafizi had drawn flak from several quarters for advising consumers to avoid buying unreasonably priced items to curb inflation.
His press secretary, Farhan Iqbal, said Rafizi was actually addressing Malaysia’s inelasticity in supply and demand, instead of urging the public to boycott buying chicken.
“Chicken was used as an example to which Rafizi stated that, if prices continued to go up, a drop in demand should be able to drive the prices down.
“The demand side of the equation is the short-term solution. Consumers must be able to make informed purchasing decisions,” he said on Twitter today.
Farhan reiterated that Rafizi was not urging the public to boycott buying chicken but was instead pushing consumers to look for cheaper purchasing alternatives.
FMT reader Chester Tan had ridiculed Rafizi for asking the public to avoid buying chicken and for saying that food and beverages at restaurants and hotels contributed to the inflation rate.
Tan said the rise in food and beverage prices was due to the cost of raw materials going up.
He also hit out at Rafizi for asking consumers to check the price of goods against those published at OpenDOSM.
However, Farhan maintained that food at restaurants and hotels was contributing to inflation, saying “this is what the data shows”.
“The increase in food and beverage prices, especially in restaurants and hotels, is the main contributor to the inflation rate.
“The price category in restaurants and hotels is the only price category that has not subsided yet. There was an increase of 7.4% in December 2022 as compared to 7% the previous month,” he said.
He said Rafizi was aware of the other contributing factors and that the minister was working to resolve this, first by meeting restaurant operators and food traders.
Farhan also said OpenDOSM was a data platform meant to help consumers make better choices, with the data easily accessible via handphone.
He also said the ministry was refining long-term measures to ensure food supply met demand and to further control price increases.
“Controlling inflation and the high cost of living requires the cooperation of all parties involved in the value chain, including the government, traders and the people.
“Cost of living is not only about cheap prices but fair prices for producers, traders and consumers,” he said.