Govt mulls abolishing law after requests by businesses

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(The Star) – The Government is looking into the possibility of abolishing the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 following requests by businesses that claim that the Act has shortcomings.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said his ministry has been given until December this year to engage stakeholders in the industry and consumers in a study.

“I haven’t decided on the matter. The Cabinet has given me time to carry out engagements with NGOs, the public and other stakeholders to decide whether the Act should be abolished or maintained with different formulas.

“This is to ensure that the Act is not abused,” he said after attending a Hari Raya function organised by the Intellectual Property Corpo­ration of Malaysia (MyIPO) at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

Hamzah revealed that last month the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak asking for the abolishment of the Act.

“According to the chambers, the Act does not give confidence to investors to do business in the country.

“When there is free market, there should be freedom given to businesses and consumers to decide the pricing,” Hamzah said.

The minister said he had asked the ACCCIM to be patient as the ministry would have to conduct a study on the matter.

ACCCIM president Datuk Ter Leong Yap said that having price control for all items would affect Malaysia’s growth as a free market.

The Act has been used to make sure that unscrupulous businesses did not raise prices unnecessarily during the initial stages of the GST, which was implemented in April last year.

“We appreciate that the Prime Minister and the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister heard our voice to let the market, in terms of supply and demand, take its course,” said Ter when contacted.

On how the abolition would affect the consumers, he said essential items were already taken care of with price controls.

“Nature will take its course. We have the Competition Act, anyway,” he added.

On a different matter, Hamzah also denied there was a shortage in the supply of chickens that led to the exorbitant increase in poultry prices in Kota Baru.

It was reported that chicken prices reached RM30 per bird in Kota Baru due to the festive season and some traders in Pasar Siti Khadijah were not even using weighing scales.

Hamzah said there was no basis to the claims of infectious bronchitis (IB) epidemic affecting the poultry industry.

On the proposed Single Pricing Policy, Hamzah said the proposal was expected to be brought before the Cabinet next month.

If passed, it will be mandatory for businesses to put up a single price for each of their products sold.