Local consumers will be paying more for food items next year amid a sluggish global economy made worse for Malaysians by a weak ringgit, a consumer advocate has warned.
Jacob George, who heads the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa) said Putrajaya could reduce the impact on consumers by stepping up action against hoarders, smugglers and those involved in price manipulation. He said prices would not come down.
“It is a global trend where there is an escalation of costs on goods and services.
“Next year, it is going to be a challenging time ahead for Malaysian consumers,” he told FMT.
George, a consumer advocate for over 40 years, said the government would not be able to totally control prices, but could make sure that “dark hands” were not manipulating the market.
“Strategic planning is needed to stop food smuggling, hoarding and to monitor prices,” he said.
He said the euphoria of the general election victory was now replaced with anger over “every little issue”, with prices of goods one of them.
He said it was unrealistic to expect prices to drop as there was nothing in the system to allow that to take place.
“If you look at the food distribution pattern and the entire network from farm to our table, it is pretty complicated and nothing has changed.”
He said Putrajaya should explain to Malaysians that there is no such thing as cheap goods and services. Instead, he said the government must ensure goods are priced reasonably and at a fair value.
The government’s Chief Statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin recently said Malaysia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2% year-on-year in November 2018.
He attributed the increase in the overall index to higher prices for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (+2%), education (+1.4%), restaurants and hotels (+1.2%), food and non-alcoholic beverages (+1.1%), and alcoholic beverages and tobacco (+1%).