The prices of essential goods in Sarawak and Sabah will be standardized with those in the peninsula on 1 April onwards to eliminate price discrepancies and reduce cost of living in East Malaysia.
Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Chong Chieng Jen said the ministry is finalising the appointment of transportation contractors through an open tender exercise.
"The price standardization programme will be implemented by April, slightly delayed from the original plan as the government needs time to appoint the transporter to deliver the items to the rural area.
"An open tender process is much more transparent instead of direct negotiations, although open tender consumes much more time to complete," he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He was responding to Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Anak Kumbong who asked of the government's take on the rising cost of basic necessities in rural areas in East Malaysia, despite the abolishment of the Goods and Services Tax.
"We are in our final stage in valuing the proposals and by April 1, we will exercise the price standardization programme in both Sabah and Sarawak," Chong said.
According to the deputy minister, the standardization will also result in the government absorbing the cost of goods shipping from the peninsula to Sarawak and Sabah.
The overall cost to bear can reach up to RM150 million annually, he added.