Don’t panic buy: essentials sufficiently stocked

DEPS says face masks and personal hygiene items are now considered essentials ; businesses should not raise prices without reason

Photo: Hobi industri

The Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (DEPS) has assured that essential food and living supplies in the country are sufficiently stocked after engagements with retailers, distributors, and producers.

The national stock of fragrant white rice has been increased to an equivalent of eight months of supply, while commercial imports of key packaged food including powdered milk, cooking oil as well as tinned and frozen food are stocked with one to three months supply.

DEPS has been monitoring the prices and availability of essentials on a weekly basis since December 2020. Since the second outbreak of COVID-19 on August 7, DPES extended surveillance to face masks, hand sanitisers, cooking oil, rice, infant milk powder, chicken, beef, eggs, and onions.

Second Minister of Finance and Economy and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said that since face masks and personal hygiene items are considered essentials in the ongoing pandemic, businesses should not raise prices without reason. Sudden or unsubstantiated price increases of monitored items will require justification.

“Retailers will also have to provide information and justification for price increases should the selling price be considered too high or unreasonable,” he said at the COVID-19 press conference.

“Businesses are also advised to consider taking temporary measures to ration/limit the sale of essentials (per customer) to ensure sufficient supply so that the public can purchase things easily.”

The minister has repeatedly urged the public not to panic buy or horde essentials to enable everyone to have access.

According to DEPS’ latest report, the supply of chicken, eggs and beef supply is sufficient and is available at shops nationwide.

The list of monitored items, along with nationwide store prices, is released to the public through the Smart Consumer mobile application. Users can also use the app to lodge consumer complaints.

Several retailers are selling face masks as low as 12 cents each, while the cheapest price whole chicken is $4.35 per kilogramme, according to the report.

DEPS also reminded businesses to provide accurate prices and stock updates. Failure to do so can result in six months jail time and/or a $4,000 fine.

Complaints and inquiries to DEPS can also be made through the 123 hotline, on WhatsApp 8333123 or through