The government will release part of its rice reserves and crack down on hoarding and price gouging to help stabilize the price of the staple, officials said yesterday.
Council of Agriculture (COA) Deputy Minister Huang Yu-tsai (黃有才) said the council would release 10,000 tonnes of its rice reserves ahead of a NT$3 (US$0.10) a kilogram increase in the government’s buying price this month.
“The COA will also work with the Fair Trade Commission and the Ministry of Justice to crack down on rice hoarding and price gouging,” Huang said.
The government is expected to buy rice for its reserves at a higher price of NT$26 a kilogram when the first crop of the year is harvested on Sunday in Pingtung and Greater Kaohsiung. The government last raised its rice purchase price in early 2008, from NT$21 a kilogram to NT$23.
This decision has raised consumer fears that the price of rice on the general market will rise.
However, Fair Trade Commission official Cheng Chia-lin (鄭家麟) said the commission had taken the initiative to monitor major rice suppliers to stop price manipulation.
“If any irregularities are found, the violators will be subject to fines of between NT$50,000 and NT$25 million in accordance with the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法),” Cheng said.