IPOH, Nov 11 – Traders, whether individuals or companies, face a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM500,000, or both, if they are found guilty of manipulating the Goods and Services Tax (GST) through their advertisements and sale promotions. Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek said the ministry had taken action against errant traders at several locations such as Nilai in Negeri Sembilan.

“The ministry can act by removing the advertisements or by stopping the sale promotions immediately if these are found to be confusing the consumers although they have received approval from the local authorities,” he said after officially opening the Groom Big Coop Supermarket of Koperasi Usahawan Wilayah Utara Perak Berhad in Meru, here, today.

Hasan said consumers could not be easily cheated as the government would always be watchful and act against malpractices like manipulating the GST and giving false information in order to reap profits. He urged consumers to call the toll-free line 1800-88-6800 on any such complaints and the ministry would investigate and act on the complaints.

“I wish to remind traders not to be greedy, not to just think of profit. Instead, we need to create a win-win situation where traders still make a profit while the consumers get to buy goods at reasonable prices, hence a harmonious situation is created,” he said. On the tragic disaster in Cameron Highlands and operations to nab illegal foreign workers in the highlands, Hasan said the ministry had discussed the matter with the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.

“We are prepared to import vegetables if the situation affects consumers. However, vegetable production comes under the purview of the agriculture and agro-based industry ministry. “We take care of the consumers, so if there is no other choice, we will import (vegetables),” he added. On cooperatives development, Hasan said he wanted the 11,450 cooperatives in the country with eight million members to take opportunity of Malaysia’s good relations with other countries like China and the United Arab Emirates to expand their markets instead of only focusing on the local market.

The Koperasi Groom Big is the initiative of the Finance Ministry, Cooperatives Commission of Malaysia and SIRIM Berhad which started in 2005, aimed at creating more Bumiputera small and medium enterprises which can compete at the domestic and global levels. The three entities assist cooperatives in developing and improving the quality of products identified in terms of branding, designing, labelling, packaging, promotion and other aspects.

Nation News

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