Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Cooperatives Ministry (KPDNKK) is not ruling out the possibility of launching ‘Ops BR1M’ to ensure traders do not raise prices of goods with the distribution of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) next month.

According to state KPDNKK director Wan Uzir Wan Sulaiman, that would be similar to ‘Ops Gaji’ when government servants’ salaries were raised.

‘Ops Gaji’ was aimed at countering traders who put unreasonable prices on their items after civil servants received their raise.

The ministry will study the situation before deciding whether to initiate Ops BR1M, he added.

“The matter must be brought to the federal ministry first before any action can be taken,” Wan Uzir said during the KPDNKK Consumer awareness programme cum Media Day at Kubah Ria here yesterday.

Wan Uzir said the rising of costs for many daily essentials cannot be avoided as the government can only monitor prices of controlled items.

“However, the ‘Anti-Profiteering Act’ is there to protect consumers from opportunistic traders. We are urging consumers to spend wisely and remember that prices are determined by market forces,” he said.

He said in some cases, prices soared after unforeseen circumstances such as weather which nothing could be done about.

“A good example is supply of fish where 80 per cent of the supply came from fishermen plying their trade around the shores. They cannot go to the sea due to the monsoon and with low supply, prices of fish will surely skyrocket,” he explained.

He pointed out that 33 traders in the state had been caught for indiscriminately putting unreasonable prices on items since Jan 1.

On a related matter, Uzir said 140 seminars on the Government Service Tax (GST) will be held around the state to explain to the public what GST is about before its implementation next year.

Meanwhile Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Bumiputera Entrepreneur Development) Datuk Naroden Majais said consumer awareness programmes will benefit consumers and traders as these will help shape and educate both sides on their rights.

“We should educate not just consumers but traders as well. In fact efforts such as ‘E-Aduan’ and the SMS system to report cases relating to consumer rights should be praised as they enable consumers to lodge reports at their convenience,” he stressed.

Naroden added that the government understood that in some cases, traders had to raise prices as they had added services such as airconditioning of premise, WiFi and other added service to justify their price.

The event yesterday among others saw programmes such as aerobics, distribution of leaflets on consumer rights to traders around the Kubah Ria Sunday Market and healthy cooking contest.

Among those present was state federal secretary Datuk Yahaya Basimin.