Skyrocketing prices put a damper on Deepavali celebrations

AS Hindus across the country prepare to celebrate Deepavali, the relentless rise in prices of essential goods has dampened the customary enthusiasm and relish of preparing for the occasion.

The Penang Hindu Association (PHA), in responding to the public outcry over the price increase, had undertaken a survey which revealed price increase on almost all the essential cooking ingredients.

To highlight the seriousness of the issue at hand, the association found a marked increase in prices of several essential ingredients including rice, milk powder, ghee, curry powder, wheat flour, rice flour, chilli powder, cooking oil, sago, dried chilli, pulut rice and condensed milk, among others.

“This year, the joy in anticipating the arrival of Deepavali, especially among the B40 families, has been overshadowed by the financial strain imposed by soaring prices of essential commodities and ingredients necessary for the preparation of traditional cookies and savouries,” lamented PHA president P. Murugiah.

“This situation has been aggravated by factors including the removal of government subsidies on some of these goods, shortage in supply, as well as the consequence of the fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate.”

Murugiah further expressed concern that the poor families impacted by the price increase may resort to borrowing money to celebrate this year’s Deepavali.

“For this, loan sharks have become a popular choice due to fast approval with minimal or no paperwork. However, by the time they realise the reality of the terms and conditions, they have already fallen into the crutches of exorbitant interest rates which may keep them trapped long term,” he remarked.

“The consequential impact of such a scenario on the ordinary man in the street is very scary and painful.”

Murugiah said the association is also concerned about complaints received on the short-changing practices by some retailers in reducing the actual weight of items sold.

To this end, he suggested that the municipal councils look into the possibility of installing standardised weighing scales at strategic places in the wet markets, large retail outlets and also at the council car parks for consumers to double check the weight of the items bought.

This is to prevent unscrupulous shopkeepers from profiting from weight manipulation of items sold, he added.

“PHA strongly urges the Domestic Trade and Costs of Living Ministry as well as the Prime Minister’s Department to look into the complaints raised by the consumers and to act against the importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers for unwarranted increase in the prices of basic essential items,” Murugiah said.

“In these trying times when our economy is being affected by uncertain foreign policies, every family need to relook at their spending habits and to make necessary adaptations so that they will not be trapped in a financial crisis.

“These financial adaptations may be difficult at first, but by being persistent and sustaining it, we could enjoy financial freedom and continue leading a stress-free life.” – Nov 8, 2023


Main pic credit: Selangorkini

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