Ministry to study proposal to regulate drink prices in S’wak

Chong (second right) speaks to reporters after the meeting with coffee shop owners in Kuching. Also seen are Tan (right) and Hii (second left).

KUCHING: The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry will study the feasibility of a proposal made by the Sarawak Coffee Shop Owners’ Association to ensure consistent prices of drinks.

Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen said they hoped to come up with a mechanism to regulate the prices in the coming week, even with the approaching implementation of Services and Sales Tax (SST).

“This is a way of tackling profiteering by irresponsible operators. They are a handful. Like all other trades, there will be some black sheep,” Chong said.

Drink prices vary from one shop to another. As a result, some consumers who pay a high price are unhappy, even with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) abolished, he added.

“Some prices did come down after GST was abolished. But some prices didn’t change. There are a lot of factors involved in drinks and food at coffee shops. These are not controlled items. Today we are trying to have a general guideline on prices.”

Chong was speaking to the media after meeting with association members at Crown Square yesterday, which he described as fruitful, with members bringing up various issues such as operating costs, minimum wage and the possibility of suppliers increasing their prices.

“The ministry is looking at all these,” Chong assured them, adding that a strategy is to increase consumer awareness of their rights.

“Besides dialogues, we are also engaging suppliers on a national level to try to prevent any profiteering.”

He added that the ministry must find a balance and come up with a win-win solution.

Also present were Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department Sarawak director Datuk Stanley Tan and Sarawak Coffee Shop Owners’ Association president Hii Hung Yii.

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