Wednesday, September 23

‘Pricey canned chicken curry not due to SST’

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KUCHING: Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen said the higher price of a 405gm-can of Yeo’s Chicken Curry with Potatoes sold at a supermarket here is not due to taxation.

Following a complaint by a consumer that the item was priced at RM8.18 per can at a supermarket located inside a mall, Chong supplied The Borneo Post with a list of supermarkets in Kuching and Samarahan along with their respective price for the same product, to prove that the implementation of the Sales and Services Tax (SST) was not the cause of the higher price.

Photo combo shows three different pricing for a 405gm-can of Yeo’s Chicken Curry with Potatoes. The RM8.18 price is from a supermarket located within a mall in Kuching.

The list reads: Yeo’s Chicken Curry with Potatoes 405gm tin at Everrise is RM6.50, H&L Tabuan (RM6.75), Servay EG Mall (RM6.21), Farley Kota Samarahan (RM6.30), Giant Tabuan (RM7.92), Upwell Bau (RM6.20), Emart Batu Kawa (RM5.69), H&L Kuching Sentral (RM6.75), Servay Summer Mall (RM6.50), BS Superstore Bau (RM6.45), Everrise Mile 4 (RM6.50), H&L Aiman Mall (RM6.75), and H&L Serian (RM6.75).

The price list was as of yesterday.

A quick check by The Borneo Post found the same product is sold for RM6.40 at Choice Ria Astana, and RM7.92 at Giant Supermarket Semariang.

Chong explained that the different prices put up by supermarkets is down to their respective business strategy, saying: “Some supermarkets are willing to earn less profit margin while others could get bigger rebates from the principal, Nestle.”

Meanwhile, the Consumers Voice Association of Sarawak (Covas) said following the implementation of SST, the price of many consumer goods in general had gone down.

“This is a good indication on the positive outlook of the economy as consumer spending will increase eventually.

“However, not all consumer goods will decrease in price as the tax structure and cost factors on some goods might determine otherwise,” said Covas president Michael Tiong.

He said there are traders who will increase their prices after several months of selling at a reduced price brought about by the implementation of SST.

This, he added, is either down to profiteering or by rising operating cost.

“The feedback from our members indicates that there are such cases happening and consumers who notice price changes – especially recent increases – can snap a before-and-after photo for comparison,” he said, adding the photo should then be sent to the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs through its ‘Ez ADU’ app.

Reports can also be made by emailing [email protected], or by texting 15888 or calling 019-2794317.

“After an official report is received, the officer will investigate whether the increase is justifiable. If the trader is unable to justify the increase, then it is compoundable under the law.”

An increase in operating cost can be due to various factors such as the hiring of more staff, or an increase in the wholesale price of the product – meaning the price increase is justifiable, he added.

Tiong also highlighted that the federal government’s new minimum wage policy of RM1,100 – to be implemented next year – will result in a price increase as it has a direct impact on operating cost.

“I urge businessmen to fairly consider not to increase their prices before the actual implementation (of minimum wage policy), but rather maintain current prices for consumers to enjoy for as long as it takes. As for consumer spending, with the proposed minimum wage of RM1,100, spending will definitely increase, meaning the purchase of consumer goods will also increase.”

He said with consumers now more aware when it comes to the price of goods they buy, they will immediately know if something is unfair.

“If consumers feel there is unfair practice, they should complain directly to the authority or come to Covas for advice. At the end of the day, consumers deserve to get fair and reasonable price for the goods they purchase.”