BAGAN DATUK — The rise in prices of goods is not caused by the imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but due to the action of the middlemen or cartel who manipulate prices to reap hefty profits.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the National Cost of Living Action Council which had met and was chaired by him on two occasions recently found that the action of the middlemen in manipulating the prices of goods had burdened the people who had to bear the rising cost of living.
“It’s true there is an increase due to production cost, rise in imports, rise due to currency exchange because our currency then was weaker compared to the value of the US currency, but the value of our currency has risen. But why is that the prices of goods do not go down?
“It means that the cartel plays a role as middlemen who make a hefty margin. I don’t want to make enemies with them, but I represent the people asking the cartel or middlemen not to blame the government and don’t victimise the people and poison their mind to hate the government,”he said.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bagan Datuk, said this when officially opening the convenience store ProMart Bagan Datuk and launched the cost of living program in Hutan Melintang, here this afternoon.
Also present were Rungkup State Assemblyman Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya who is also chairman of the State Committee for Youth & Sports and Human Resource, Bagan Datuk District Officer Datuk Hamzah Hussin, FAMA chairman Tan Sri Badruddin Amiruddin and Executive Chairman of Prolink Retail Sdn Bhd Datuk Dr Suhaimi Ibrahim.
Commenting further, Ahmad Zahid said the council which was also chaired by him found that the same group was also among the companies or individuals who had previously avoided from paying the Sales and Services Tax (SST).
He said that the matter had to be explained to the public as the government had frequently been accused of being the culprits whereas it had done its best to champion the cause of the people.
“They blame the government because the GST was the main cause for the price rise, whereas the cartel was previously the companies or individuals who had escaped from paying the SST. That’s why the government took measures to collect the sales tax through the GST.
“Because of this, they were angry at the GST and that’s why they hurl allegations and slanders at the government,”he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said the government would increase the number of the ProMart convenience stores to replace the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M).
He explained that the National Cost of Living Action Council had proposed to appoint companies to handle more ProMart outlets and this would no longer be under one single company as had been done previously.
“The government also bore the transport cost which was the contributing factor in the rise in the prices of goods,”he said.
ProMart is a subsidiary of Prolink Marketing Sdn Bhd. It was created as one of the platforms for the implementation of one of the corporate social responsibilities (CSRs) to the consumers and clients by offering daily basic necessities at reasonable prices.
Earlier in his speech, Suhaimi said 32 ProMart branches had been fully operational in Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Selangor and Johor.
“A total of 81 more branches will be opened this year. The Bagan Datuk branch is the 18th Kedai Serbaneka ProMart branch,” he said. — BERNAMA