Cheaper Food Bills A Wishful Thinking, Say Coffee Shop Operators

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 – Amid hopes that food prices will fall due to lower petrol price, restaurant and coffee shop operators said it would never happen. Chan Jit Keong, who operates the New Hollywood Restaurant coffee shop in Ipoh, said food bills would only remain unchanged at most, even if fuel price continues to drop.

“Please don’t get the idea that food prices will be come cheaper. “I have never seen food prices go down in all my years,” he told The Rakyat Post when contacted. He said customers had been joking to him about price cuts, but they were realistic enough to know that it would not happen.

“They are increasingly aware that they can no longer afford to eat the same amount on what had  once regarded as reasonable salaries,” he said. Burger seller Fauzi Arbain, 49, said he was actually feeling the pinch financially as a result of high prices in raw food materials due to the flood.

“Many people think that the prices of raw food materials will drop in tandem with fuel price, but it won’t. “The cost of vegetables have shot up by several ringgit a kilo, while eggs are also pricier now. “Suppliers give the excuse that increased demand for basic foodstuff due to the flood have driven prices up.”

He said some of his regular customers, who struggle to get by, had even tried to ask for discounts on burgers. Sahul Hamid, a foreign worker at a mamak restaurant in Bukit Damansara, noticed that some regular customers would eat less towards the end of the month.

“They have been forced to buy cheaper food because the cost of living have increased,” he said. Khim Chiang, manager of a Western dining restaurant in Cheras, cautioned that prices might even go up in the next one or two months. This, he claimed, was due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that would take effect from April 1 this year.

“Food operators will adjust their prices to minimise the financial impact of GST, including food prices.” He added that food suppliers generally sold their products on fixed prices as there were too many items in the food and beverage industry. “It would have been difficult to follow a fluctuating price that changes every now and then as a result of market forces,” he said.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman was recently quoted in a Bernama report as saying that a drop in the price of petrol would not influence prices of goods, as traders were profit-motivated. Effective Jan 1 this year, the government announced a price drop of 35 sen for RON 95 and RON 97 petrol to RM1.91 and RM2.11 a litre respectively.

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