PRIMAS; Reconsider GEG Policy As It Comes With Hefty Fines

According to Suresh, restaurant owners have already suffered severely due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, rising cost of goods and staff shortages and the new regulations will add to their difficulties

PRIMAS; Reconsider GEG Policy As It Comes With Hefty Fines
Primas President J. Suresh 

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 JULY 2022 – The Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (PRIMAS) issued a plea to the Government to reassess its decision to prohibit sales of tobacco and smoking products in the future which will likely hurt eatery businesses throughout the country.

PRIMAS statement came following recent news reports that the Government has approved the Ministry of Health’s tobacco bill, including a prohibition on selling cigarette and vaping products to those born after 2007.

Primas President J. Suresh says, “PRIMAS strongly believes that these drastic measures proposed by MOH will do more harm than good to consumers and legal businesses like us. Not only will it cause us to lose revenue, but it will also disrupt our business operations.”

“As highlighted in the media, implementing a smoking ban for the next generation will come with a hefty price for its members. The retailer will be fined up to MYR 30,000 or imprisonment up to 3 years or both if the members fail to comply with the law.”

“We do not encourage smoking, however, this policy will create challenges for us. We will be required to conduct checks on whether people are born after 2007 in future through their MyKad, which is an added complexity to our business. In addition, sales of products provide us with an additional income source and we will be impacted in the future.”

Additional suffering on retailers

According to Suresh, restaurant owners have already suffered severely due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, rising cost of goods and staff shortages. “We are still coping with these issues, and further rules and regulations that will impact our revenue, increase our cost of operations and create additional complexity will worsen the situation.”

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Suresh also added that the Government need to show evidence that this policy will work. “Is the government confident that these additional measures can stop people smoking, or will it just be another law that will be poorly enforced or add confusion to all parties?” he questioned.

Suresh pointed out that the issue of illegal cigarettes needs to be resolved if the Government wants to reduce smoking prevalence.

“The illegal market has the upper hand as they control 60% of the overall market and the new policy doesn’t even address the situation. In fact, the ban will only make all products sold in the market to be illegal in future when no legal companies are selling these products in Malaysia.”

Primas urged the government to instead focus on combatting the illegal cigarette trade that is causing the country to lose RM5 billion in tax revenue every year and harms smokers due to the unregulated ingredients.

“The Malaysian government must consider all these before many any decision. Not all policies will work and this is not the time to put our F&B industry at risk,” he concluded.