By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Aug 11: The retail price for three-ply surgical or medical face masks will be lowered to RM1 from RM1.20 per piece while the wholesale price at RM0.95 from RM1.15 beginning Aug 15.
Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi however emphasised that the RM1 retail price was not the end of their efforts as they will continue to look into and review with stakeholders to further lower the prices of face masks for the benefit of consumers.
“The Ministry is ready to further reduce the ceiling price (of face masks) to much lower in the near future,” he told the Dewan Rakyat in responding to Chong Chieng Jen (PH-Stampin) today.
He added that even though the federal government may be a few steps behind in responding to the changes of the market forces, their actions and measures however will always prioritise consumers’ benefits and safety.
“That’s more important and not just to play politics and to get popular by lowering the price to a certain level which could be good for politics but not effective in protecting the safety of consumers,” he pointed out.
Chong was questioning why the ministry was reacting slowly to the changes of market forces in relation to face masks, as prices had gone down to the point where consumers could now buy the product at RM0.40-RM0.50 per unit in the current market.
Even though measures had been implemented, he also pointed out that consumers had already been affected, especially the B40 or lower income group with school-going children.
Nanta added that the federal government had to be cautious and careful in setting the ceiling prices of face masks especially to ensure that the products were of quality and standard.
“We set the price limit after discussions with all stakeholders including consumers, manufacturers and others.
“There are face masks in the market sold at RM0.40 or RM0.50 per piece but what kind of quality is it?,” he pointed out.
Earlier on, Nanta said that since mask-wearing had been made mandatory beginning Aug 1 in public places and crowded areas, the demand for face masks in the market had increased.
“For the meantime, the supply of face masks is sufficient and production have also increased while retail prices have been reduced under the maximum limit controlled by the government.
“The reduced in ceiling price is a soft-landing approach to allow earlier stocks brought into the country with higher costs using air cargo logistics can be sold to reduce the loss of importers due to the lowering of prices,” he explained.—DayakDaily