KUCHING, Aug 9: Although the ceiling price for face masks will be lowered to RM1.20 per piece with effect from August 15, the proposed ceiling price is still too high and is not affordable for many, opines DAP Batu Kitang chairman Abdul Aziz Isa.
“This is because the proposed price ceiling is 50 per cent higher than that when PH (Pakatan Harapan) was the government,” the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Batu Kitang leader highlighted in his press statement today, adding that the retail price of three-ply face masks then was only RM0.80 per piece.
He opined that it was a mistake to increase the ceiling price for three-ply face masks to RM1.50 per piece after the PH government collapsed earlier this year, and the federal government taken over by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
“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,” Abdul Aziz disclosed.
This morning, he and his team distributed almost 400 packets of free face masks to hawkers and visitors at the Third Mile Sg Maong wet market.
In his statement, Abdul Aziz also cited a simple calculation, assuming a family of six would be using six pieces of face masks per day and six times per week, that would total up to RM216 per month of additional household expenses.
“To the majority of Sarawakians earning a below-average income and falling under the B40 category, it is undoubtedly a heavy burden.
“What more to say for those who are living from hand-to-mouth, this is definitely a heavy burden to the low-income families.
“In a worse scenario, if they fail to comply, they will be imposed with RM1,000 fine per person,” he asserted.
On a related issue, Abdul Aziz also pointed out that the ceiling price of RM1.20 per piece of face mask would plant the impression in traders that RM1.20 is a reasonable retail price despite the huge profit margin behind the scene.
“Since June, the global supply of face masks had adjusted sufficiently to cater to the increasing demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Now, the costs for production of face masks have normalised to the pre-Covid-19 time, and the previous price ceiling of RM0.80 per piece of three-ply face masks can give traders very comfortable profit margins to operate,” he added. — DayakDaily