Wednesday, November 20

Don’t exploit sugar price hike: Ministry

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Food, drink outlets told not to increase prices of goods arbitrarily

MIRI: Food and drink outlets risk facing the music if they increase the prices of goods indiscriminately.The warning came from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry which is keeping a hawk’s eye on the situation following the recent increase in the price of sugar in the country.

“Eating outlet operators must not simply hike the prices of their drinks and food as they wish,” the ministry’s enforcement chief here Zakari Awang warned yesterday.

He said stern action awaited errant operators.

Zakaria added that the ministry viewed the matter seriously, thus offenders would not be spared the compounds.

He said they were focussing on the matter and carrying out daily inspections at eating outlets in Miri Division including Bekenu and Marudi.

“Any trader found flouting the trade laws will face a compound of RM300 (for sole proprietor) and RM500 (for companies) under the Price Control Act 1946,” he cautioned.

He added that those who failed to settle the compound fees would be brought to court.

The enforcement chief saw no reason why the price hike in sugar would affect their business, especially in the sale of drinks.

He noted that in coffeeshops the operators often used condensed and ideal milk in drinks like tea, coffee, Milo and Horlicks.

“The prices of these sugar-based items are stable with no increase in costs, so there is no excuse for the operators to hike the prices of their drinks; besides, they do not need much sugar for that matter,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post yesterday.

When asked, Zakaria assured that there was sufficient sugar   for the festive season.

He said although the monthly consumption of sugar in the division was about 500 metric tons, the supply was enough to meet the needs here.

He reminded the public not to over-buy the commodity simply to stock up, adding that this would create unnecessary demand.

“The people should buy according to their needs,” he said.

Effective Jan 1, the price of sugar has increased by 20 sen per kg.

Prior to the rise, the item was sold at RM1.60 per kg.

Sugar is a controlled item and as such traders should not raise the price indiscriminately.

Zakaria said his enforcement teams and price monitoring officers would go to the ground to check  the  shops  in the division from time to time to ensure traders did not break the law by increasing the price of sugar  and other sugar-based products anyhow because the impact on their prices was minimal.

“We also want to make sure that consumers do not buy sugar in great quantities unnecessarily just to stock them at home,” he said.

To a question, he said they would carry on with the monitoring and inspection work “until we are satisfied with the situation.”

Meanwhile, traders who face sugar shortage problem are advised to inform the ministry’s office here at 085-412862.