LEAD MALAYSIAN ASEAN APEC CONSUMERIST CALLS FOR AN INTER-CABINET COMMITTEE TO ADDRESS PRICE DISPARITIES AT THE MARKETPLACE.
It has been over 7 months after GE14 and Malaysian consumers are continuing to struggle with the whole question of cost of living issues, despite claims and counterclaims otherwise!
This is despite the alleged “benign” inflation of 1% in 2018!
Many have since joined in this mantra adding their opinions; some recycled which has to have any impact in the marketplace.
In the last week alone – there have been official statements on the possible increase of costs for public utilities, which include water without any consultation at all with stakeholders!
Is it then time to address these issues and disparity by urging the government to use the newly revived weekly fuel pricing system as an inspiration for policy-makers and consumer intelligentsia to devise a method of controlling the prices of daily essentials and the costs of transport and utilities?
Is it also time for the establishment of a taskforce comprising of representatives from all ministries, government officials and consumerists to study the market, monitor prices, re-look at the availability and distribution of essential consumer goods and critical services, which includes the prices of utilities to take over control from those allegedly playing mischief with the marketplace?
The taskforce should be chaired by the deputy prime minister to give it bite.
As a consumerist with a track record of over 40 years, one appointed by the previous government to the cabinet committee on costs of living and one who actively recommended the weekly fuel pricing system to the Najib administration, which produced stability and results, I believe a similar formula for the pricing of essential goods would, apart from ensuring a fair market, keep consumers informed of price changes and give them an understanding of the reasons behind such changes.
For example, when the price of fish or vegetables goes up in bad weather, or the sudden price increase or shortage in meat, eggs and other consumables the public could learn of this from information given by the proposed panel who will then provide advisory on a response.
The same with cost escalation on public utilities, housing, transport, healthcare and education to cite the core needs!
Consumers would be delighted as all they seek is up to date information why there are disparities and unaccountable prices runaways and the proposed intervention undertaken by the government to stabilize he situation.
They will also be happy that the government of the day is taking these huge challenges seriously with an executive taskforce monitoring the marketplace and the behavior of stakeholders, the latter comprising of suppliers and retailers could not raise prices at whim because of the monitoring done by the panel.
And the punitive sanctions that awaits those abusing the system which incudes the suspension or blacklisting of one’s business license!
It is time to declare war against those who are manipulating the marketplace!