PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Wednesday (Dec 1) that rising prices of essential goods in the country were not caused by traders, but by costs accumulated at various levels of the supply chain.
"It is true that daily essentials are more expensive now. Traders and wholesalers are not responsible for this price increase. I see it as resulting from the supply chain.
"Take chicken as an example. Breeders, factories and wholesalers all have their own costs. The price is already high by the time the goods reach the traders," Mr Ismail Sabri told reporters.
He called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries to cooperate with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to resolve the issue.
"At the same time, we (government) need to seriously look into the issue regarding the involvement of middlemen," he said.
Mr Ismail Sabri also said that Malaysia will import frozen chicken, so as to enable people to buy chicken at a lower price.
“For a start, we will bring in 200 container loads,” he said, adding that imported frozen chicken is expected to be available in the local markets by next week.
The price of local chicken in Malaysia has increased recently to RM9.80 per kg, which is "unusual", said Mr Ismail Sabri.
While chicken prices have increased to RM10 per kg in the past, this seldom happens as they normally range between RM7 and RM8 per kg, he said.
Mr Ismail Sabri also said the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries plans to temporarily halt fish exports to keep prices at local markets affordable.
“If possible we will temporarily stop fish exports because it is important to meet the needs of our people. We do not want them to be burdened with price hikes, especially for wet goods,” he added.
On Tuesday, Malaysia's Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said the government would hold regular sales of basic goods to keep the prices of necessities affordable for consumers.
“The ministry will ensure that the prices of the goods sold will be cheaper than the market, by 15 to 20 per cent," said Mr Alexander Nanta Linggi.
Mr Nanta said that other government agencies and departments would also cooperate with his ministry to ensure that the sales of these basic necessities reach households affected by the price increases.
Currently, the ministry has more than 1,000 officers daily monitoring the prices of 480 items in 1,500 premises nationwide.