Food item prices to be monitored

KLANG - As the country prepares for the Hari Raya celebrations, nearly 3,000 enforcement officers and government-appointed observers will do their rounds nationwide to monitor the prices of 20 food items.

For the next 16 days until Aug 11, the government officers, consumer association groups, NGOs and observers will be stationed at morning markets, hypermarkets and other commercial centres under the Hari Raya Festive Price Control Scheme iniative by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and ConsuĀ­merism Ministry.

As soon as the scheme kicked off yesterday, its minister Datuk Hasan Malek headed a team from his ministry to conduct a spot-check at the Meru wet market here. The minister was pleased to see the traders there following the guidelines.

"I am very happy to see all the traders following the ceiling price capped by the ministry.

"In fact, from my rounds here, I realised some of them selling food items below the ceiling price," he said after the inspection.

He said the effort was to ensure traders did not raise food prices as they wished when demand was at its peak.

Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, deputy minister Datuk Ahmad Bashah Hanipah said price control checks would be conducted in 146 districts nationwide - 89 in West Malaysia, 32 in Sarawak, 24 in Sabah and one in Labuan.

He said the ministry would have enough manpower and support to monitor and get information about food prices during the period.

He reiterated that action would be taken against those who did not abide by the scheme.

The ministry would also set up weighing machines at selected areas for customers to check if the weighing was done properly, he said after inspecting the Chow Kit morning market.

In Johor Baru, state tourism, domestic trade and consumerism executive councillor Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said some 150 enforcement personnel and 102 officers in charge of monitoring the prices in Johor would step up efforts to ensure that the price of controlled items do not go up during the festive season.

He said an additional two items had been added to the list of controlled items this year.

"The items are cabbages from both local and imported at a ceiling price of RM3.30 and ikan mabung at RM12 per kg," he said after a spot-check of ticket prices at the Larkin bus terminal and a wet market located next to it.

On the expected exodus of people returning home to celebrate Hari Raya, Tee said all types of buses, including factory, school and city buses, could be used as additional coaches for the coming festive season provided that the companies had applied for a proper licence.