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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, June 24: Starting today, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) enforcement officers will be paying a visit to all cement traders and retailers in the state to issue a notice to them under Section 21 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act.
This follows a statement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday urging the authorities to look into cement prices in Sarawak, which is said to be higher than cement prices in the peninsula due to monopoly by local industry players.
“Starting today, we will be issuing this notice to all cement retailers in the state. This is not a summons or compound notice but to tell these retailers to clarify or justify the selling price of their cement,” KPDNHEP enforcement director Mohd Hanizam Kechek told reporters after conducting checks and handing over the said notice to Wija Hardware Sdn Bhd at Jalan Astana here today.
Hanizam said individual retailers found guilty of profiteering under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act would be compounded not more than RM50,000 or jailed not more than two years, or both.
As for institutions or organisations, those found guilty would be compounded not more than RM100,000.
For those who committed offences under Section 14(1) of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act, individual retailers would be compounded not more than RM100,000 or put behind bars for not more than three years or both.
For institutions or organisations, they would be compounded not more than RM500,000.
Following Guan Eng’s statement, CMS Cement Industries Sdn Bhd (CMSCI) issued a statement welcoming the Finance Minister’s request to probe the difference in cement prices between East and West Malaysia.
CMSCI chief executive officer Suhadi Sulaiman explained that the disparity in the prices of cement between the two regions was purely due to the recent aggressive price war that had led to industry mergers and acquisitions in the peninsula.
Secondly, he said, an enquiry of this nature would also serve to show once and for all that Sarawak had not been and never had been a cement monopoly. — DayakDaily