During the parliamentary sitting today, 11 August, the government agreed to reduce the ceiling price of three-ply surgical masks
The cost will be lowered to RM1 per piece for retail and 95 sen for wholesale.
Aside from accounting for the country's adequate supply of face masks, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi also told the Dewan Rakyat, "The ministry is also prepared to further reduce the ceiling price to a lower level in the future."
New Straits Times quoted the minister as saying, "We hope this effort will alleviate the burden of parents who have to provide face masks to their children who have started going to school and for the public's use."
This comes after the cabinet's earlier decision to lower the retail price of three-ply face masks from RM1.50 to RM1.20 per piece, which is set to take force on 15 August.
However, the minister was probed on the rationale behind setting the price of masks at RM1.50 a piece in the first place
In response to Stampin Member of Parliament (MP) Chong Chieng Jen's question, Alexander explained that the ministry had gazetted the maximum retail price of three-ply masks to RM1.50 after consulting manufacturers and operators.
According to The Star, the minister cited the initially low supply of face masks, high cost of air transportation, and weaker ringgit as justification for the previous price of RM1.50.
Alexander was also asked if the ministry could guarantee the quality of masks even with the price reduction
The minister said that the government was careful to check the face masks, ensuring that they are of a certain standard.
Though the wearing of masks in crowded public places was made mandatory beginning 1 August, Alexander noted that all decisions were made with the public's safety in mind.
New Straits Times reported the minister saying, "It may be true that our reaction is late, [but] this will ensure the safety of consumers. That is more important."
He added that he would not have reduced the price simply for the sake of politics if it meant that the product being delivered would be ineffective in protecting the safety of consumers.
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