SST’s impact on prices of food, beverages will be minimal — Chong

Chong (centre) speaking to reporters after a dialogue session with local coffee shop owners and operators at Crown Square, Kuching this afternoon. With him are Tan (right) and Hii.

KUCHING, August 12: Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen today reassures consumers that the hike in food and beverage prices at coffee shops and eateries will be minimal once the Sales and Services Tax (SST) is imposed this September 1.

He said his ministry would monitor the situation and also engage coffee shop owners and suppliers to ensure the price hike would not be exorbitant.

“We (ministry) have been having dialogue sessions with business owners, particularly coffee shop and eatery owners, to hear their feedback. Some of the reasons given for the hike of prices of their food and beverages were operating cost, minimum wage imposed, licensing and copyright or royalty, and increasing supplier prices.

“At the moment, the ministry is in the midst of studying all these. We hope that within a week or two before SST is imposed, we will be able to come up with a mechanism to tackle all the problems faced by businesses and coffee shop owners and also to prevent profiteering,” Chong told a press conference after chairing a dialogue with coffee shop owners and operators near Pending here this afternoon.

Among those present were Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs state director Dato Stanley Tan and Sarawak Coffee Shop and Restaurant Owners’ Association chairman Donny Hii Hung Yii.

Chong (second from right) speaks during a dialogue session with local coffee shop owners and operators at Crown Square, Kuching this afternoon.

Nonetheless, Chong said, the impact of SST would be about half of the previous Goods and Services Tax (GST), and since most coffee shops and eateries had been absorbing GST into their food and beverages prices, prices would either be the same or only increase minimally once SST is imposed.

He urged consumers to be aware of their rights as well as the differences in prices after SST, as the food and beverages sold at eateries and outlets were not controlled items, meaning prices at different shops might vary.

“One of the ways the ministry is proposing to curb profiteering is to increase consumers’ awareness. When consumers are aware of the price increase, they will know it should not be too exorbitant.

“There are so many varieties and shops around, so consumers would be able to check and balance against profiteering. We need to instil this awareness in consumers,” said Chong, adding that action would be taken against businesses or eatery owners if they were found to be profiteering.

He said it would be very challenging for his ministry, as it would need to balance between trade and consumers.

On today’s dialogue session, he described it as “very positive and encouraging’.

“We understand the increasing cost of living is a problem for the people; we are working on how we (ministry) can play our part to ease the high cost of living,” said Chong. — DayakDaily