The federal government today announced a ceiling retail price of RM19.90, and wholesale price of RM16, for Covid-19 self-test kits in retail stores starting September 5.
“The demand for rapid test kits is expected to increase following heightened public awareness in self-assessment to ensure they are not infected,” said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi in a joint statement.
“The ceiling wholesale and retail pricing of the self-testing kits is made according to the appropriateness and suitability for more effective enforcement to ensure reasonable prices and availability of supplies in the market for the benefit of consumers and traders.”
Presently, the self-test kits in the market are priced from RM28 to RM41.
He added that his ministry expects competition will further stabilise the selling prices, similar to current prices of face masks.
He warned traders that stern action will be taken against those who flout the new regulation under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act.
Individuals may be fined up to RM100,000 or sentenced to a jail term of not more than three years, or both. They may also be issued compounds of up to RM50,000.
Companies may be fined up to RM500,000 or issued compounds of up to RM250,000.
However, not everyone is rushing to buy these test kits.
Bandar Kuching DAP MP Kelvin Yii claimed that the ceiling price set by Putrajaya for the kits are still too high for many segments of the society.
He stated that the price is unaffordable for the B40 and lower M40 especially those who have many family members that have to be screened frequently.
“That is why I urge the government to take an extra step to subsidise the price of the Covid-19 self-test kit to make it affordable and accessible to the mass public as we facilitate the public into accepting it as part of the new normal, especially as one of the important steps to progressively re-open our economy safely and sustainably,” he said.
According to Yii, test kit prices that are subsidised would also help SMEs as they are already struggling due to the slow economy and the government must alleviate some of their burdens while encouraging safe practices to build a frequent testing culture.
“The government should also look into reducing red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to approving self-test kits that meet the necessary requirements.
“When there are more brands in the market, this will encourage competition which will drive down the price once ordered in bulk, especially when the demand increases as the government cultivates a culture of testing throughout the community.
“From there, the government can look at subsidising it further to make it even below RM10 to make it affordable and accessible as they cultivate a culture of self-testing among our community,” he suggests.
The politician also urged the government to conduct the necessary enforcement against fake test kits that are being sold online and those that have not been approved by the Malaysian Medical Device Authority.