Ministry has no control over prices of drinks

Chong says beverages not listed under controlled items, KPDNHEP cannot regulate their prices in coffee shops

KUCHING: The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) will not control the price of beverages at food premises or coffee shops even if it receives a lot of complaints concerning the unreasonable price tagged to beverages.

Its deputy minister Chong Chieng Jen said this is because beverages are not listed under controlled items and the ministry therefore cannot control or set the ceiling price.

“For prices of coffee, tea and Milo at coffee shops, we are still using the free trade practice system because we believe that this can reduce the price.

“Unless it is really necessary, we will come up with a ceiling price or controlled price,” he told a press conference held in conjunction with his visit to Pico Food Industry Sdn Bhd, here yesterday.

A survey conducted by KPDNHEP Sarawak on 11 coffee shops around the city found that beverages at 38 Food Street were more expensive.

Chong pointed out that based on receipts obtained from 38 Food Street, the price of ‘Kopi O’ reached RM2.08, ‘Kopi Peng’ at RM2.45, ‘Milo O’ at RM3.02, ‘Milo Peng’ at RM3.21, ‘Teh O’ at RM2.08 and ‘Teh Peng’ at RM2.45, with a service tax also imposed at 92 sen.

Apart from that, he said Warong Nusantara at Icom Square also charged quite a high price on its beverages where ‘Kopi O’ is priced at RM1.80, ‘Kopi Peng’ at RM2.60, ‘Milo O’ at RM2.50, ‘Milo Peng’ at RM3.70, ‘Teh O’ at RM1.80 and ‘Teh Peng’ at RM2.60.

“A survey was also carried out at Thong Seng Corner Tabuan Jaya, Premier Food Junction, Yeow Kee Kopitiam, Win Win Cafe Icom Square, ABC Food Centre, Love Chopstick Garden, Siang-Siang Batu 3, Yong Siang Corner and D.J.H, where the price of beverages was quite similar.”

However, he reiterated that KPDNHEP cannot take action on coffee shops despite many complaints from customers – 90 per cent of which were mainly towards 38 Food Street.

Chong added that the price set by coffee shop operators, be it expensive or cheap, is not an offence.

“We can neither control the price nor is it an offence (to set an expensive price for a beverage)
but consumers ought to make a price comparison and choose whether or not they want to patronise the shop. This is all up to the public as customers,” he remarked.

Nevertheless, he stressed that action will be taken against any coffee shop operators found to have manipulated the Sales and Services Tax (SST) to gain profit.

He also assured that KPDNHEP enforcement officers will continue to monitor and conduct checks to track down traders who are taking advantage of the SST implementation for profit.

“If there are traders who increase the price of items after the SST implementation, they will be arrested and will be charged under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering
Act 2011.”

He said since SST was enforced on Sept 1, KPDNHEP Sarawak has carried out more than 2,000 checks at business premises and service providers throughout the state.

Also present with Chong on his visit were KPDNHEP Sarawak director Dato Stanley Tan, deputy director Md Nawawi Abdul Rahman and Pico Food Industry Sdn Bhd managing director Sim Cho Phong.

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