Mixed reaction to price adjustment

PETALING JAYA: Consumer groups have had a mixed reaction to the price cap set for Covid-19 self-test kits as the country plans to move into the endemic phase.

From September 5, the ceiling price for Covid-19 self-test kits will be RM16 for wholesale and RM19.90 for retail.

Malaysian Federation of Consumer Associations Chairman Datuk Dr N. Marimuthu said the price should be lowered to RM9.90 to make it more affordable for the public.

“We need cheaper self-test kits to allow more widespread detection of the virus.

“The new pricing still makes it difficult, especially for those working in factories, to buy and use when needed.

“For a family of four, the cost of buying the test kits is around RM80, which could be used to buy groceries instead,” he said.

Also, he urged those who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as it would help the country emerge from the pandemic.

Penang Consumers Association education officer NV Subbarow, however, said both price caps were reasonable.

“Since the demand for self-test kits is higher now, the government should ensure that the products are genuine.

“Consumers are urged to buy them only from authorized sellers, either in the field or online,” Subbarow said.

In Putrajaya, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi and Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the price cap in a joint statement yesterday, saying it would be effective from 5 September.

The ceiling price will lead to a significant reduction in retail prices, as many of these kits are priced between RM28-40 in pharmacies.

At present, 11 brands of self-test kits have been approved by the ministry for public use.

Of the 11, seven test kits use saliva samples and another four use nasal swab samples.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Khairy said making self-testing kits more affordable and accessible was the government’s plan to implement regular testing of the public for Covid-19.

Those who sell these self-test kits above the price cap may be penalized under the Price Control and Profit Control Act 2011.

For individuals, they can be fined up to RM100,000 or jailed for up to three years or both for the offence.

They can also be compounded up to RM50,000 under the law, while companies are liable to a fine of RM500,000 or up to RM250,000 for the breach.

Eleanor C. William