Cover Story

Lower face masks’ ceiling price to what it was under PH

Press Statement by DAP Sarawak Chairman and Member of Parliament for Stampin, Chong Chieng Jen on 4 August 2020

With the mandatory use of face masks in public places, the government should lower the price ceiling for face masks to at least the pre-Covid-19 times.

When I was the deputy minister of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), the price ceiling for 3-ply face masks was only RM0.80 per piece (retail price).

During the MCO, the Minister increased the price ceiling for 3-ply face masks to RM1.50. (That itself was a mistake). The Minister recently announced in Parliament that the price ceiling will be lowered to RM1.20 per piece with effect from 15 August 2020.

A shop owner  selling face masks at his store in the Terminal One bus station in Seremban yesterday. -Bernama
A shop owner selling face masks at his store in the Terminal One bus station in Seremban -Bernama

The proposed price ceiling of RM1.20 is still way too high and not affordable to many. It is 50% higher than when PH was the government. The high price ceiling will expose the consumers to exploitation by the traders, especially given now that the government has made it mandatory to use face masks in public places.

To the new minister of KPDNHEP, RM1.50 per piece of 3-ply face mask may not be expensive, but to many, it is a burden. Imagine a family of 5, both working husband and wife and 3 school-going children. RM1.50 per piece per day would mean RM7.50 per day, take 25 days in a month that they need to go out, that adds up to RM187.50 per month of additional household expenses. It is surely a heavy burden to the poor families, especially
those who are living from hand to mouth. If they failed to comply, they will be imposed with RM1,000 fine per person.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says "F M HOME NEWS BERITA OPINION WORLD BUS Face masks in public compulsory from Aug FMT Reporters July 2:25 8.4k Shares 6.6k Beginning including the use face masks will public transportation. © must in public places KUALA LUMPUR: Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the use of face masks in public places will be made compulsory from Aug"
A screenshot of FMT’s article on the enforcement of face masks starting 1 August 2020

Since June, this year, the global supply of face masks had adjusted sufficiently to cater to the increase in the demand therefore due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the costs for production for face masks have normalized to the pre-Covid-19 time, and the previous price ceiling of RM0.80 per piece of 3-ply face masks can give traders very comfortable profit margins to operate.

Even though the costs of production for face masks have lowered tremendously to pre-Covid-19 times, with the government setting the price ceiling of RM1.20 per piece, it gives the impression that RM1.20 is a reasonable retail price notwithstanding the huge profit margin
with this price. This is detrimental to the interest of consumers in general.

Therefore, I call upon the Government to lower the price ceiling of face mask to the pre-Covid-19 time.

Chong Chieng Jen,
DAP Sarawak Chairman,
Member of Parliament for Stampin.

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