Focus View
Ministry must stop the profiteering
FocusM team | 08 Dec 2017 00:30
The sharp hike in the gas price next year has got the business community all riled up and will lead to a spate of price increases. 

Glove manufacturers say they will raise prices while steelmakers lament they will incur RM200 mil in extra costs. The gas price hike is across all sectors, including for homes. Gas Malaysia Bhd announced that the base tariff for all sectors will be raised by 10.2% from Jan 1, for a six-month period. 

Coming at a time of high petrol price, we can expect another round of price increases next year, further fuelling inflation. School bus operators have given notice that they will be raising their fares next year.

As usual, unscrupulous businessmen will jump on the bandwagon and raise prices by a larger quantum than their actual cost increase. Lax enforcement by the relevant authorities allows them to do this. 

Some argue the government should re-introduce price subsidies on a case-by-case basis to prevent inflation from getting out of hand. But that might mean having to spend billions of ringgit more. 

The answer to controlling inflation lies in strict enforcement without fear or favour. The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry has been ordered to form a special unit to check soaring food prices.

Its officers have been directed to check on cases of extreme profiteering, especially by middlemen. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there was an obvious disparity between production costs and retail prices as middlemen are taking advantage by charging more than they should. 

“I want the ministry to set up a special team to study this problem to make sure that retail prices of food do not increase because of such tactics. We don't want the rakyat to suffer and in doing so, have a negative perception of the ministry and hold the government responsible for their woes,” he was quoted as saying. 

We hope the ministry will take heed of Zahid’s call. For too long the ministry has been lax in its enforcement, causing prices to soar due to profiteering. It is no point telling the public that the inflation rate is 3-4% when in reality prices rise by much more.

Inflation is something which can, and must be controlled. So stop giving excuses and get on with the job.