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[January 05, 2014]
Checks on ice makers, stationers [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) KUALA LUMPUR: THE government is investigating suppliers that collectively raised prices of goods, as part of an immediate step to cushion subsidy cuts.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) had launched a probe into the increased cost of stationery and ice, following allegations that their suppliers and manufacturers had colluded to fix prices.
"Price hikes by themselves are not anti-competitive in nature.
"But if the prices were raised through a cartel or agreement between any associations or groups of sellers, suppliers or manufacturers, then that would be considered a violation of the law," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.
The ministry, he said, was also planning to meet several manufacturing and supply associations tomorrow in a bid to limit cartel-like behaviour and avoid excessive price hikes.
The government's probe had been launched in response to the decision by several ice manufacturers to raise the price of edible tube ice supplies by 50 sen per bag and RM2.50 per block of ice beginning this year.
Booksellers Association of Malaysia had also announced on Dec 27 its decision to raise stationery prices by the first quarter of 2014.
Public concern over rising costs has risen in recent months, following the government's move to cut subsidies on a number of essential items, such as petrol, sugar and electricity.
The decision, aimed at reducing the national deficit, however, resulted in a cascading effect, which caused the prices of other goods and services to spike.
Hassan said while increased costs were inevitable, the ministry would go all out to clamp down on exorbitant price hikes, and act against errant manufacturers, suppliers and traders.
He also called on the public and consumer groups to report specific instances of rising prices to the ministry for action to be taken.
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