Reduce prices of essential goods in Sarawak, Sabah – TRADA

Grocery store aisle and shelves. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, Jan 15: Dayak Transformation Association (TRADA) today urged the federal and states’ governments to collaborate and bring down the prices of daily essential goods in Sabah and Sarawak immediately.

The youth and community advocacy group made this request following the implementation of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in the key cities of Kuching, Sibu and Miri on Wednesday.

TRADA president and founder Joseph Janting pointed out that communities in Sabah and Sarawak have been and continue to be impacted by the Covid19 crisis with the youth and B40 segments hardest hit because of income loss or unavailability of jobs.

“The financial burden faced by the people in Sabah and Sarawak because of this crisis is made worse by the high cost of daily goods and essential items such as clothing, food, consumer goods and vehicles which have always been more costly in Sabah and Sarawak compared with Peninsular Malaysia due to factors such as logistics, market size and distribution system,” he said in a statement today.

Welcoming the effort by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) for embarking on a programme to standardise prices of goods in the country with a RM40 million allocation under the 2021 National Budget, Joseph hopes the process can be expedited.

“Additionally, TRADA also believes that the price of daily consumer goods should be brought even lower in view of this crisis and in consideration of the average household income levels in Sabah and Sarawak, which is significantly lower than Peninsular Malaysia.

“With more and more people facing financial pressures, high prices will cause consumers to turn to black market products, which are easily available in Sabah and Sarawak as a result of our porous borders. This situation can lead to all kinds of social and economic problems,” he emphasised.

Citing the cigarette black market as an example, Joseph claimed that the price of legal cigarettes in Sabah and Sarawak is three to five times higher than illegal cigarettes.

“In terms of a solution to this particular problem, TRADA supports the recent proposal by Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, to initiate a pilot programme that brings the price of legal cigarettes closer to illegal products.

“Sabah and Sarawak are an ideal testbed for this proposal given the severity of the cigarettes black market in these states,” he opined.

Joseph emphasised that the black market of daily essential goods cannot be allowed to go out of control like illegal cigarettes.

“Prices can be lowered quickly through innovative policies, tax reforms, utilisation of technology and better collaboration between the states and the federal government.”

“At the same time, regardless of CMCO or state of emergency, the federal and states’ governments must continue to be vigilant and proactive in enforcing the law against black market smugglers in order to safeguard the economy and consumers at large,” he concluded. — DayakDaily