TSU wants commodity hikes reviewed for price gouging
By Ann Yu, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A political party yesterday demanded that the price stabilization task force look into the issue of commodity price hikes and investigate any instances of price gouging.
January 22, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
As food prices have hiked drastically in recent weeks, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) predicted that shoppers would spend 10 to 20-percent more for their Chinese New Year's feast.
At a press conference that criticized growing food prices, members of the TSU held up placards showing images of food and how much, in percentage form, their price has swelled. TSU lawmakers noted that food prices during the last Lunar New Year were lower than they are now and the New Year is yet to even arrive.
Lawmaker Lin Shih-chia said that increasing food prices would cost families 10 to 20-percent more for those who wish to cook on Chinese New Years. For example, she said that taro used in the famous Chinese dish — fo tiao qiang — increased by 43.84 percent while mushrooms have grown 45.65 percent.
With the approach of the holidays, Lin is worried that food prices may hike even more in February.
Fish Prices Float Higher
Lawmaker Huang Wen-lin cited statistics released by the Taipei City Market Administration for the average agricultural goods prices, saying that the price for red-eye bull fish has increased by 28.04 percent. Last year it cost NT$358.92 per kilogram, while this year it is NT$459.57 per kilogram.
Another common food used for festive dishes is the pomfret fish that has also increased from last year's NT$590.23 per kilogram to NT$627.62, a growth of 6.23 percent according to Huang.
Besides materials used for festive dishes, other agricultural goods that have increased include potatoes — at a 58-percent growth, chicken — at an 18-percent growth, and bananas — with a 69-percent increase.
Huang criticized the price stabilization task force convened by Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah for lacking attentiveness to market prices, saying the recent meeting in January was nearly four months apart from the previous one held in late September.
The Cabinet responded yesterday saying the task force has asked the Council of Agriculture (COA) to act upon the recent hikes. Spokesperson Cheng Li-wen said that the COA has been asked to monitor the food markets and provide updates on any new price changes.
In the price stabilization meetings held in January, Jiang directed the COA to ensure fruit, aquatics and livestock levels in the market stay adequate.
He also asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ensure state-owned enterprises maintain the lowest possible price for basic ingredients such as sugar and cooking oil.