KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The new maximum retail price of RM1 per unit that three-ply face masks can be sold for in Malaysia will kick in this Saturday (August 15), the latest government gazette this week has confirmed.
In an order published on August 11, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi gave his approval for the new wholesale and retail prices for three-ply face masks in Malaysia.
The maximum retail price is RM1 per unit or RM50 per box, while the maximum wholesale price is RM0.95 per unit or RM47.50 per box.
This order applies to three-ply face masks — whether surgical or medical — that are worn either by ear loop, head loop or head tie-on.
This order, known as the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering (Determination of Maximum Price) (No. 2) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020, was made by price controller Datuk Seri Hasnol Zam Zam Ahmad on August 10, with the approval of Alexander Nanta on the same day.
On August 11, Alexander Nanta said in the Dewan Rakyat that the government will lower the ceiling price for three-ply surgical face masks to RM1 at the retail level and 95 sen for wholesalers, but did not specify when this would take effect.
Today, Alexander Nanta said the government’s further reduction of the maximum retail price would help low-income families, especially those in the Bottom 40th percentile (B40), to buy such face masks.
"The government has decided to lower the ceiling price to RM1 from RM1.20.
"This will assist the B40 group (afford face masks)," he told reporters during a press conference at the Parliament building today.
As wearing face masks became compulsory in public places especially in crowded areas from August 1, the affordability and cost of disposable three-ply masks has been raised in public discussions.
How three-ply face masks’ retail prices have changed over time
Previously in a March 18 order, the government had raised the maximum retail price for three-ply face masks from RM0.80 per unit to the new price of RM2 per unit or RM100 per box, with hopes of addressing the shortage of face masks then by encouraging local production and helping importers cover the cost of importing face masks.
The government subsequently, in a March 27 order, lowered the maximum retail price for three-ply face masks from RM2 per unit to the new price of RM1.50 per unit or RM75 per box, with the new price taking effect from April 1.
On July 20, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government was considering making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places to curb the spread of Covid-19.
On July 23, Alexander Nanta told Parliament that the government planned to further reduce both the maximum retail price of face masks from RM1.50 to RM1.20 per unit and the maximum wholesale price from RM1.45 to RM1.15 from August 15 onwards.
Also on July 23, the government announced that wearing face masks would be mandatory in crowded places and public transportation from August 1. The government later provided further explanation on when face masks are required, and also provided a list of 14 categories of places where failure to wear a face mask is punishable by law.
On August 6, Alexander Nanta had said the government would further reduce the price from the planned RM1.20 per face mask, following public feedback.
With the latest government order that was gazetted this week on August 11, the maximum retail price that traders can sell three-ply face masks will be at RM1 per unit from August 15 onwards.