PUTRAJAYA: With ceiling prices for chicken, eggs and bottled cooking oil to be removed after June 30, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry will have its work cut out to ensure there are no drastic price hikes.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said his ministry’s enforcement officers would be dispatched to check prices on the ground and weed out profiteering traders.

“Once the ceiling price is removed and the price of chicken and eggs is left to market forces, we expect costs to go up.

“The ministry understands this will happen because of rising costs, but traders cannot increase prices excessively.

“We would like to warn traders that we will be monitoring prices and will not hesitate to take action if they are found to have breached our anti-profiteering laws,” Nanta told a press conference at his ministry here yesterday.

He was speaking after an engagement session on price and supply issues with industry players and consumer groups.

The ceiling price scheme for chicken and eggs which was implemented on Feb 5 will end after June 30.

The scheme was supposed to end on June 5, but the government extended the deadline to ensure Malaysians are better prepared for the expected price changes.

Nanta said the price of chicken was expected to go up to around RM10 per kg after the removal of the maximum price.

“Livestock farmer groups told me that chicken prices will indeed go up a bit after the subsidy is removed. I cannot confirm by how much but they said it would be around RM10 or so per kg.

“They also gave me their assurance that it won’t be as high as RM12 per kg, as speculated by some people.

“I told them they must not increase prices excessively as we will take action if they do,” he added.

Currently, the ceiling price for standard chicken is set at RM8.90 per kg in Peninsular Malaysia.

Nanta said enforcement officers would also be on the alert for cases of chicken hoarding before the June 30 deadline.

“We are aware that some traders might take advantage of the situation by hoarding supplies, so we are constantly monitoring this. If members of the public come across this, please report to us,” he said.

On the removal of subsidies for bottled cooking oil after June 30, Nanta said the scheme was always supposed to be a temporary move.

“The scheme which was implemented on Aug 1 last year was supposed to be for three months, but the government has continued it until today.

“The government has spent up to RM20mil a month to provide the subsidies. Now, we have decided to remove it and allow the prices to be dictated by the market,” he added.

However, the subsidy for cooking oil sold in 1kg polybag packets will remain. The price of the packets is capped at RM2.50 per item.

The maximum retail price imposed on bottled cooking oil was set at RM29.70 for a 5kg bottle, RM6.70 for 1kg, RM12.70 for 2kg and RM18.70 for 3kg.