The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the global shortage of face masks and right now they are extremely critical for healthcare practitioners. However, despite advice from the government to only use face masks when necessary and advisories to not hike prices of face masks, people still do it. The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry in an operation today uncovered and confiscated 223,000 units of 3 ply face masks from an online seller.
The seller was using Facebook to advertise the face masks at an exorbitant price of RM3.50 per piece when the ceiling price is set at RM2 per piece. The sale was conducted via WhatsApp and the products were sent via post or followed a Cash on Delivery (COD) method. The masks were delivered around Kota Damansara and Petaling Jaya and the ministry was alerted by the public on the sale of the above ceiling price face masks.
It had been mentioned by the ministry that traders who increase the price of any type of face mask will face fines up to RM100,000 or jail time of up to 3 years or be subject to a compound of RM50,000 under Section 11 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011. Since the seller had violated this act, they can be fined up to RM500,0000, and for the second offence or subsequent ones, be fined up to RM1 million. The ministry estimated that the confiscated masks were priced at around RM446,000.
If the seller is not a corporate body, the ministry noted that they could be fined up to RM100,000 or face jail time up to 3 years or both. Meanwhile, any subsequent offences can be fined up to RM250,000 or be given jail time up to 5 years or both.
The government had recently announced that they will soon lower the ceiling price of face masks from the current RM2. The new price will be known after the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs conducts a meeting with members of the industry.
If you do notice anyone selling face masks above the mandated ceiling price, please inform the ministry. You can call them at the KPDNHEP hotline at 1-800-886-800 or 03-8882 6088/ 6245, or you can file a complaint with the Enforcement Command Centre (ECC).