KUALA LUMPUR, August 11 — The government will reduce the maximum retail price of three-ply surgical masks from RM1.20 to RM1 a piece, but a minister did not reveal when this would be done.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi previously said last month that the ceiling retail price for surgical masks would be decreased from RM1.50 to RM1.20 per unit effective August 15, while the maximum wholesale price would be reduced from RM1.45 to RM1.15 from the same date.
“The price of this three-ply face mask will be further reduced to RM1 per unit at the retail level and RM0.95 at the wholesale level, based on the continuous assessment of the supply and the face mask price by the ministry,” Nanta told the Dewan Rakyat today during Question Time, without specifying when this will be done.
He also said that the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has collaborated with the Finance Ministry to increase the supply of face masks at the local market and to provide exemption from import duties and road tax to face mask manufacturers.
“The maximum price reduction is a soft landing approach to enable stocks brought in earlier at higher costs using air transport can be sold to reduce the losses of importers as a result of the decline in price.
“It is hoped that this effort will help reduce the burden of parents who need to provide face masks for children who have started school and for the use of the public,” the minister told the Dewan Rakyat.
Starting from August 1, the government has made it mandatory to wear face masks inside public transportation, crowded public spaces and areas where social distancing is impossible, amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen had questioned Alexander Nanta during Question Time at Parliament today if the government has acted late in reducing the ceiling price of face masks, as the reduction is only happening after the use of face masks in public areas has been made compulsory.
“What is the standard or guarantee that will be given by the government that the quality of this face mask is effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19?” Chong asked.
“That’s why we are careful, if we want to lower the price, some say in the market, there are those who sell RM0.40 per mask, but what is the quality? We do not know,” the minister replied.
“So, we have to be vigilant, that’s why we have put in a standard that we have discussed with all stakeholders, consumers, manufacturers etc.
“Although it may be true that we acted slowly, but we will definitely save the consumer, which is important, not just wanting to play politics and to be popular by lowering the price that may be good for politics but ineffective to maintain the consumer’s safety,” Nanta added.