Published on: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Labuan: With the fasting month of Ramadan barely about three weeks away, the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism has assured that there will be a sufficient supply of controlled items in the market and the supply chain would be monitored.
Such assurances are always forthcoming from the Ministry ahead of any major festival and this time there had been no exception.
However, MIC Chairman Ramasamy Rengasmay said there was a serious and worrying shortage of cooking oil for more than a week on the island.
He said besides the subsidised cooking oil priced at RM2.50 and packed in 1kg plastic bags, "even the higher grade brands such as Helang, Knife, Buruh and Daisy are missing from the shelves. Consumers are going up country grocery shops to purchase but without luck."
He said what was left were the more expensive olive oil and Omega 9 cooking oil and some are forced to buy this for the first time.
While others are overcoming their problems by seeking help from friends coming over from Kota Kinabalu to bring back the stuff.
Ramasamy said the shortage of affordable cooking oil was a serious issue as it could affect the Ramadan mood in view of the wide range of cookies that need to be prepared.
He said the "big users" in the market might not be feeling the pinch because such users had foreseen the problem based on their business experience and stocked up sufficient quantity, thereby triggering the shortage.
"But households cannot play the game because they do not have the extra funds."
Early this year in February, ahead of the Chinese New Year, there was also a shortage of cooking oil but it was not as serious and quickly solved by the Domestic Trade Office.
He urged the office to act firmly on the matter and ensure that essential items such as cooking oil are easily available to meet local demand.
Previously, shipping and transportation problems were cited for any shortage of controlled items,
But now, Ramasamy said, there are sufficient ferry operators for the Menumbok-Labuan route.
He added that he did call the Domestic Trade office had been informed that the appointed dealer of one brand of cooking oil had been advised to get additional supplies of 400 cartons every week from the Sandakan supplier.
"But I checked with them and had been told that the stock has yet to arrive, the dealer could be blamed as he depended on the supplier and was at his mercy," said Ramasamy.
He hoped the problem could be solved before Ramadan and before the expensive brands of cooking oil were snapped up, "leaving butter as the only alternative to cooking oil."