Standard pricing for food, drinks in eateries soon
Coffeeshop and restaurant associations here have given a positive response to the proposal for a standardised pricing of food and beverages in their outlets.
They have until June 27 to come up with a reasonable and more standardised pricing in line with the zero Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate which came into effect June 1.
The initiative to come up with a win-win situation for everyone was made during an in-depth discussion initiated by the Health and People's Wellbeing Ministry and attended by several such associations, Tuesday.
Among present were the Persatuan Peniaga-Peniaga India Muslim Sabah, Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association and Sabah Restaurant Fellowship Association.
Also present were those from the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK), Customs Department and City Hall.
"Our intention is that we want to monitor the pricing of food and beverages to prevent profiteering in such premises and also to ensure a win-win for everyone," said Health and People's Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wong. They have received complaints from the public that some of the prices charged is unreasonable.
"We also found out there is no standardised pricing, for example one shop may charge RM1 for a cup of tea, while another shop may charge RM2.40, and some shops even more.
"Some shops charge RM1 for a glass of plain water or Chinese Tea, some even RM1.50, which I think shouldn't be.
"So this afternoon we had our first engagement and have received a very positive response from the associations, they are willing to work out reasonable and more standardise pricing among themselves," he told a media conference held at his office, here.
The initiative will start with lower category coffee shops and restaurants because most consumers patronise these type of outlets.
"It is an unreasonable excuse to say that you cannot reduce the price because you have absorbed the GST prior to this, we cannot accept such excuse.
"When the GST was enforced, it was paid to the government, but now they don't have to pay to the government.
The GST was abolished to reduce the people's burden, so prices should be lower instead of higher," he said.
On whether action will be taken against those who failed to comply with the standardise pricing, he said the government preferred not to use too much of its authority but would rather have people understand and work together towards creating more harmony in addition to having a better boost in the economy.
"The government don't always want to meddle in matters but sometimes if it is not going too well and so many complaints on unreasonable pricing, then the government have to intervene," he said.
He also assured that the government will look into several matters and issues raised by the associations.
"My officers from KPDNKK have also conducted a study for all the various towns and we do understand that a standardised price may differ in different districts, but for Kota Kinabalu the pricing should be more or less the same.
"Even one of the coffee shop proprietor agreed that some are charging unreasonable prices.
For example a cup of milo would cost RM3.30, some even RM4, the pricing cannot be so much difference , some of them are just taking advantage of the situation.
He also said that there was also no excuse for them to increase the price because of the Sales and Services Tax (SST) that will replace GST on Sept 1.
"SST is not multilayer like GST, I understand that only a few goods will be taxed under SST unlike the GST, so there is no reason for them to say price increase because of SST," he said.
Also present were Luyang Assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe and the Ministry's Permanent Secretary Janet Chee. - Sherell Jeffrey