KUALA LUMPUR (June 23): Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today calls for investigations into possible monopolistic practices among cement players in Sarawak, saying that prices of the building material in the state are markedly higher than in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Cement is a basic building material and a drastic price increase will inevitably feed into the economy negatively, and eventually hurt consumers. At the same time, cement prices in Sarawak that are markedly higher than in Peninsular Malaysia should be further examined to determine whether it is caused by monopolistic practices of local industry players in Sarawak,” he said in a statement.
He said this after noting that the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had proven the government’s commitment to keep living costs faced by Malaysians at a reasonable level, by keeping cement prices in check after meeting with cement players.
“This success immediately tackles concerns over a possible 40% hike in cement prices across Peninsular Malaysia, as reported by the media in the past week. It also alleviates fears that major cement producers in the country were abusing their market power to raise cement prices unfairly,” Lim said.
Cement manufacturers, who sent notices on price increase to construction companies last Sunday, decided to reverse the decision on the 40% price hike after meeting with Saifuddin on Tuesday.
According to media reports, cement makers were reminded to duly discuss with the government any future price hike since cement is a price-controlled item.
Meanwhile, in the same statement, Lim said inflation for consumers remains low and stable.
“The consumer price index for April 2019 increased by only 0.2%, which was the same as for March 2019.”