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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Jan 31: The export of certain sea products out of Malaysia has been banned for two months — January and February.
Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen highlighted that the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) had taken this measure to prevent shortage of these products during the monsoon and festive period.
“This is to limit the export of certain fishes like mackerel, white pomfret and ‘selar’ as well as fresh prawns,” he told a press conference after launching the Chinese New Year Festive Season Price Control Scheme at Stutong Market here today.
“I hope the traders do not hog the supply but release the supply to the market. Let’s work together to bring down the prices of all goods, including seafood.”
Chong pointed out that his ministry would discuss with MOA to see how to lower the prices of sea products, given that for the last five years, there had been a substantial increase in prices.
“One of the reasons was due to export. We will see to that and how to tackle the issue on the supply end of sea products.
“We will study the impact on the fishing industry and the local seafood market and see how to balance demand and supply when factors such as export revenue and consumer needs needed to be taken into account.”
He explained that the economic system in which businesses in Malaysia operate was based on the free market, where prices of goods are determined by supply and demand.
“But during the festive season, when demand surges, there is a need to set a maximum price for goods to safeguard consumers because it will be excessive to go beyond that marked price.”
On enforcement, Chong explained that there were 1,400 price checkers or enforcement officers nationwide who were appointed by the ministry to go around to monitor the prices of goods, especially controlled items, at markets every day.
“On normal days, they will be checking on around 500 items in the market. We have all the data and results. As such, I have released the information that the prices have gone down for 70 per cent of surveyed items in the market.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese New Year Festive Season Price Control Scheme implemented under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 is effective from Jan 30 until Feb 8.
The controlled items under the scheme are live, standard and super chickens, chicken eggs A, B and C, imported round cabbage, garlic (China), white pomfret, big white shrimps and live pigs (maximum farm price), pork (belly) and pork (meat and fat).
Action would be taken against traders who charge high and unreasonable prices under Section 21 of the Act.
For those selling price-controlled items that are above the maximum price, individuals can be fined up to RM100,000 or imprisoned not exceeding three years or both, or pay a compound of up to RM50,000, while companies can be fined up to RM500,000 or pay a compound of up to RM250,000.
Individual traders who fail to display a pink price tag on goods are also liable to a fine of RM10,000 or pay a compound up to RM5,000, while companies can be fined up to RM20,000 or pay a compound of up to RM10,000.
Members of the public who wish to lodge complaints about unfair pricing may contact the ministry call centre at 1 800 886 800, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, the Enforcement Command Centre at 03-88826245/ 6088, and WhatsApp to 019-2794317.
The Ministry’s deputy secretary Datuk Rostam Affendi Salleh, enforcement director Dato Iskandar Halim Sulaiman and Sarawak director Dato Stanley Tan were present. — DayakDaily