Authorities in Penang to step up enforcement following reports of surge in vegetable prices

Customers shop for vegetables at the Taman Selamat Wet Market in Bukit Mertajam March 25, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Customers shop for vegetables at the Taman Selamat Wet Market in Bukit Mertajam March 25, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, April 16 — The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department will be stepping up enforcement action to check the prices of vegetables and essential food items in supermarkets, markets and grocery stores following complaints of price hikes.

The department’s Penang director Mohd Ridzuan Ab Ghapar said it had received complaints of price hikes for certain food items such as vegetables, especially onions.

“I have instructed the enforcement team to investigate these complaints,” he said when contacted.

The department has received a total of 555 complaints about the supply and price of things since the movement control order (MCO) started on March 18.

The department has since issued four notices, three involving the sale of eggs and one on onions, under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 and Control of Supplies Act 1961.

Mohd Ridzuan said the enforcement team had checked 626 premises including 312 supermarkets, 68 grocery stores and 246 markets between March 18 and April 13.

“We have also conducted checks on 834 essential item premises such as five factories, 26 wholesalers and 803 traders to ensure sufficient supplies of daily essential items,” he said.

Mohd Ridzuan was responding to a statement by Penang Consumers Association (CAP) today alleging a drastic increase in the price of onions and vegetables in Penang.

CAP President Mohideen Abdul Kader claimed some retailers are selling their goods at far above normal prices.

“A report claimed that Indian onions were sold at 53.85 per cent above their normal price of RM6.50 per kilogramme in Penang at wet markets and sundry shops,” he said in the statement.

He claimed the prices of other vegetables were similarly affected and called on the government to monitor the situation and ensure the food supply chain is uninterrupted.

He expressed his concern that Malaysia depends on 30 to 40 per cent of imported food to meet its needs.

“It can be a dangerous situation in current times and CAP had warned about it as early as August 2018,” he said.

He urged the government to introduce a comprehensive agricultural policy to ensure sustainability of food supply in the country after the Covid-19 pandemic is over. 

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