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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Rising prices of goods spark quit dares in Dewan Rakyat

PARLIAMENT | Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi duelled with opposition MPs in the Dewan Rakyat today after they pushed for his resignation if he is not able to resolve the rising prices of goods by Dec 9.

This was after he said on Nov 25 that the issue will be resolved in a couple of weeks.

"If by Dec 9, it is not resolved, will the minister take responsibility?" asked Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-DAP).

However, Alexander explained that the issue was complex and there was a possibility that the issue may not be resolved by then, prompting Lim to continue pressing him.

An annoyed Alexander (above) then shot back, saying that Anwar Ibrahim (Port Dickson-PKR) and Lim Kit Siang (Iskandar Puteri-DAP), too, should resign for the promises they have made.

"When I made that statement, I said we tried to do. But the fact of the matter is you should know, it is very complex. It is not just entirely in the hands of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

"If we want to make promises about resigning, Port Dickson also said if (the opposition) won today, petrol price will go down the next day, but it didn't go down.

"Iskandar Puteri also said if Anwar didn't become prime minister, he will resign. So where's the promise? If we want to play politics..." he said, trailing off as the opposition protested.

Holistic solution

Ignoring the interruptions, Alexander said he accepted the criticisms and proposals from Lim.

He also concurred with Lim that the rising prices of goods should not solely be put on the shoulders of traders as there are logistical issues involved.

"That is why we are not being hasty or too dramatic in imposing a maximum price...

"If we don't assist them in the operational cost, then businesses are forced to sell at higher prices because they bought them at a high price from the wholesalers while the wholesalers also bought at a higher price from the farm.

"That is why we have not acted on a whim despite the pressure demanding enforcement and a price cap.

"We have not done it because if we do that without a holistic solution to assist them with reducing the operational cost, small businesses would be victimised," he said.

Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-DAP)

Alexander said his ministry is now engaging with other ministries as the problem was not exclusive to his jurisdiction alone and involve the supply chain, plantations and farms which are out of his hands.

However, Anwar urged Alexander to bring the issue higher up the command chain.

"Bring it to the cabinet, then it will be resolved. You can resolve it together. The people have waited for a long time," he said.

Earlier, Alexander said the issue of rising prices was not limited to Malaysia, pointing out that the International Monetary Fund has reported that food prices had jumped by 30 percent across the globe as economies reopen after prolonged lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said some 2,200 enforcement officers have been deployed to ensure the price hikes are genuinely due to supply issues and not profiteering.

He added that the price control scheme will also be activated earlier for this festive season in the run-up to Christmas.

Affordable prices

Beginning Dec 4, Alexander said the government will also organise a "Keluarga Malaysia" sale where basic goods will be sold at affordable prices.

"This programme will be conducted in 222 parliamentary constituencies, twice a month.

"The government will ensure the goods offered will be 15 to 20 percent cheaper than the market price," he said.

He added that the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry is also looking at measures to help bring the prices of food items down.

"Among others, the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry has proposed to allow the import of whole chicken from overseas processing centres which are approved by the Veterinary Services Department as a means to increase supply and stabilise the market price," he said.

He added that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has also announced an RM262 million allocation to assist farmers impacted by the spike in fertiliser and pesticide prices. - Mkini

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