The Fair Trade Commission would look into the recent price hikes of some consumer products as reported by local media to verify whether the increases were in response to market forces or initiated by a price-fixing cartel, commission Chairman Wu Shiow-ming (吳秀明) said yesterday.
The prices of more than 100 consumer products have risen by 0.9 percent to 15 percent since a sharp rise in fuel prices last month, according to media reports.
Asked by legislators about the 30 percent price hike of a particular packaged rice at a local supermarket chain, Wu said the product had been selling at a special price for promotion, and the current, higher price is its regular price after the promotion ended.
“If the government considers such an action as a price increase and launches an investigation, it might cause a chilling effect on the market, and no merchant would dare promote their products using special prices any more,” Wu told the legislature’s Economics Committee.
Asked what the commission had been doing to investigate illegal pricing practices, Wu said the commission can hand out severe punishments to businesses that violate the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法) through price-fixing or other cartel conduct.
He added that he hoped the law would be revised so that the commission would also have the right to confiscate suspicious merchandise to help its investigation.