PETALING JAYA: To alleviate the increasing cost of living and high prices of essential goods, the government must ensure there is sufficient supply to meet public demand, said Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations president Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason.

He said the government has to determine the supply and demand of essential goods and disseminate information on what is available.

“By ensuring sufficient supply, the cost of goods will not rise needlessly. When there is no panic buying, prices of goods will remain at affordable levels and this can be of considerable help to the
B40 group.”

He added that it is important for the government to cut red tape when it comes to importing food products as the easier it is to do so, the more competitive prices will be.

Marimuthu said if there is too much red tape and it takes months just to import chicken, the high investment costs would be passed on to consumers.

He also said among the immediate action the newly installed government could take is to conduct strategic planning by obtaining data on the types of goods that are readily available on the market.

“The government needs to know at what prices fish, eggs, chicken and other essential items are being sold on the market and what is being consumed most. Such data should also be disseminated to the public to allow them to plan their weekly shopping.

“People usually make their family food purchases every week, and if they know what is readily available, they can plan accordingly and thus keep prices within reach.”

Universiti Utara Malaysia economics professor Dr K. Kuperan Viswanathan said the government should ensure the price of essential items does not go beyond the reach of the B40 group.

He said the government also urgently needs to look into how to increase the wages of workers, which have remained stagnant for several years.

“If the wages of the B40 group are higher, it will give them the ability to better deal with the increasing cost of living.

“Many firms have claimed they cannot afford high wages because it could lead to higher costs. But many of them make from RM500 million to billions of ringgit in profit and yet refuse to share their gains with their workers who have contributed to it.”

Kuperan added that the government could look into how to encourage companies making huge profits to share some of it with their workers and help them deal with the increasing cost
of living.

He said one important aspect of lowering the cost of living is to provide planning and financial assistance to improve infrastructure in regions and states that lack it.

“Better infrastructure would make the movement of goods and services easier and cost less, thus making essential items more affordable,” he said, adding that another key factor in dealing with the high cost of living is to ensure the supply chain is efficient and is able to deal quickly with market disruptions.