Wednesday October 10, 2012
Kenyalang coffee shop comes under ministry’s microscope for raising price
KUCHING: A coffee shop in Kenyalang Park here has become the first to come under the scrutiny of the law after it raised the price of its drinks just days after sugar prices went up by 20 sen per kg.
The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry’s office here received a letter from an anonymous complainant yesterday, which said that soon after sugar prices went up on Saturday, the coffee shop had increased the price of a cup of “kopi-o” from 90 sen to RM1.
The ministry’s state director Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman said he had sent his men to investigate the complaint to determine if the price increase was justifiable.
Denying talk that the ministry had no bite when dealing with businesses that took advantage of consumers by hiking their prices, he said the ministry could take action under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011, a new and stiffer legislation.
He pointed out that under the Act, which was enforced last year, an individual who commits an offence can be fined up to RM100,000 or face three years jail or both; while for a company, the fine was RM250,000.
“If we receive a complaint, we will investigate it and if we find the complaint to be true, we will issue Notice 21 to the operator to explain the hike in prices. If his reason is the price of sugar, we will take action immediately.
“But if they can convince us that its because of rising cost of operation or they have made improvements to their shop, we can accept that,” he told reporters after the launch of the “Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia” by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Deputy Minister Datuk Rohani Karim at the canteen of Bangunan Sultan Iskandar here yesterday.
When contacted by The Star later, Ahmad Uzir said his office had 28 cases under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 in the state and they covered various offences, not just the price increase by coffee shops.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced the reduction in sugar subsidy when he tabled Budget 2013 end of last month.
With sugar costing RM2.50 per kg, the public is concerned that the food sector in general will take advantage of the announcement and raise their prices as they had done previously.
Although there have been much advice and warnings given by the authorities against such profiteering act, no real action appears to have been taken against any businesses here or in the state, which adds to the public’s worry that the sugar price hike will burn a large hole in their pockets.