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Concern over costlier ice blocks from Saturday
Published on: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Fishmongers and meat sellers are up in arms over plans by at least four ice manufacturers to raise the prices of whole and half blocks to RM10 and RM5 respectively - an increase by RM2 effective March 1. They are currently priced at RM8 and RM3, respectively.

They said if the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry does not intervene, they may have no choice but to pass on the 20pc increase to consumers through costlier fish, chicken, mutton and beef.

Poultry and meat are controlled items and this placed these sellers in a dilemma.

"We understand that in peninsula, ice manufacturers were warned by the Government not to increase prices and that at least one firm now faces a RM300,000 penalty for doing so. We wonder what is the stand of the Ministry in the case of Sabah," said a fishmonger who wished anonymity.

"The last increase by ice factories was just last year from RM7 to RM8 for a whole block and RM2 to RM3 for a half block. The increase is coming so soon and we are also victims just like the consumers as they are behaving like a cartel," he said.

He said what was also confusing was that the prices were being raised despite the Sabah Government disallowing any increase in the water tariff last month, the main component in making ice. Although the electricity tariff was raised recently, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) had announced it is willing to give a rebate to factories that operated on off-peak hours like Sundays from midnight to dawn provided they request in writing.

The four manufacturers who made known their intention to jack up prices were Tian Quan Ice Industries Sdn Bhd, 39 Ice manufacturers, Sabah Ice and Fishery Trading and Boon Keng Ice.

A spokesman for Boon Keng said they decided to raise prices because "other factories are also doing likewise."

The others could not be reached for comment but merely cited the economy as the reason for the increase in their brief statement issued to the fishmongers and meat sellers.

It is not known whether the increase was also statewide or only restricted to the city areas as ice blocks sold in other towns are smaller and, thus, weigh less than those sold in the State Capital.

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