Diesel subsidy cuts felt by housewives, restaurateurs

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — All through the Pudu wet market, one of the biggest in the Klang Valley, one can hear customers complaining that prices of goods are shooting up while sellers try to convince them that they are not profiting as well since the start of 2011.

This conversation is repeated across the country from Perlis to Sabah, reflecting the 2.9 per cent hike in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the first four months of 2011 but more since June when Putrajaya cut diesel subsidies for hauliers and trawlers, adding to the price of basic food items and other goods.

People buying fish at the Pudu wet market. Customers are complaining that prices of almost everything have gone up. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Restaurant owner Kak Mai told The Malaysian Insider that when prices of chicken and fish go up, she can’t raise the prices at her restaurant.

“I’ll just have to make less, what to do,” the 53-year-old said, pointing out that siakap fish (barramundi) has gone up from RM20 to RM24 per kg in the past few days, although she expects prices to come back down.

Fifty-six-year-old Mrs Cheong , who operates at a school canteen, was buying fish in bulk when approached by The Malaysian Insider.

“I sell at a school canteen, after signing the contract, the price is fixed and I cannot hike the price at all,” she said, adding that her profit went down from 20 per cent to 10 per cent in the past few weeks.

Until May 31, 2011, C2 trawler operators received a subsidy of 28,000l to 30,000l of diesel per month at RM1.25 per litre. Diesel super subsidies were removed for the C2 fishing trawlers and nine other logistic-related groups this month.

Those operating trawlers in the C2 category or 30 nautical miles offshore have been on strike since June 11 over the June 1 diesel price hike from RM1.25 to RM1.80 per litre.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia (KR1M) no-frills grocery shops yesterday in a move to mitigate rising prices of dry goods in the Klang Valley.

But the prices in the wet markets are subject to volatility.

Mohd Rosli Osman, 43, who was shopping for his family, pointed out that kerapu (grouper) went from RM9 to RM12 per kg and ikan bawal (pomfret) from RM8 to RM15.

Chan Soon Hoong, 48, who has been selling fish for 30 years, said the government should continue to provide the diesel subsidy.