This is written by my colleague at general newsdesk Patrick Sennyah.
PETALING JAYA: The price of cooking oil will remain the same, for now. Deputy Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Tan Lian Hoe said the current shortage was mainly caused by panic buying, following rumours of an impending price increase.
Tan said steps were being taken to get the Malaysian Palm Oil Board to speed up distribution of cooking oil to all retail outlets.
Cooking oil is a price-controlled item. She said her ministry is monitoring the situation closely. Traders, found to jack up the price of cooking oil, will be charged under the Anti-Profiteering Act.
Tan also said it was crucial for consumers to support the move to reduce the use of plastic bags instead of complaining about the ban on their use on Saturdays. She said on average, Malaysians use eight billion plastic bags a year and the staggering price of petroleum was causing a huge increase in the production cost of plastic bags.
In Seremban, the state Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Department said it will distribute more cooking oil to various districts following shortage complaints. Its director, Norashiken Ishak, said this was to ensure consumers received sufficient supply and not be forced to purchase cooking oil at high prices from unscrupulous traders.
"About 12,000kg of cooking oil will be distributed to five main wholesalers before it is channelled to retailers state-wide. Our focus, however, will be on areas where there is a serious shortage, such as Seremban, Port Dickson, Rembau and Bahau in Jempol," she said.
Although the situation in the state is under control, the department has received reports that some traders are hoarding their supplies so as to cash in later. "We will take action against those found increasing their prices and also hoarding," Norashiken said, adding that the shortage in supply was because producers had failed to meet the increasing demand since early last month.