Wed, Nov 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Seven cases of price fixing probed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Seven cases of suspected price speculation have been uncovered since a task force to clamp down on such crimes was created on Nov. 5, Deputy Minister of Justice Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said yesterday.

Lee, Cabinet Spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) and Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairperson Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) announced new measures to combat commodity speculation at a press conference held after the Cabinet's second weekly meeting on managing commodity prices.

National Policy Agency personnel made 6,000 trips to inspect 1,828 places where 2,909 people were questioned about commodity prices over the past week, Hsieh said.

Several cases of suspected price manipulation had been forwarded to prosecutors for further investigation, he said.

Of the nine cases under investigation by prosecutors, seven people had been listed as defendants and two locations had been searched, Lee said.

He refused to discuss the alleged irregularities, except to say the cases included a person accused of hoarding 6,542 barrels of cooking oil in Taichung City, a Yunlin County company that had 500 tonnes of peanuts, and an unregistered business selling oil in Hualien County that had 14,000 liters of diesel and oil storage facilities.

"We will continue our efforts to clamp down on profiteering and the hoarding of essential commodities," Lee said.

Meanwhile, Ho said that the wholesale price changes on several major commodities had remained relatively stable over the past week except for soybeans and feed corn.

The wholesale price of soybeans was up 1.82 percent compared to a week ago, corn for feed had increased 2.19 percent and the price of wheat was up 0.25 percent, while the price of flour, cooking oil and milk powder were unchanged, Ho said.

She said the Cabinet had approved a Council of Agriculture proposal to encourage local production of feed corn, under which farmers who grow feed corn in fallow rice paddies would receive a subsidy of NT$45,000 per hectare.

That subsidy will be given on top of the NT$45,000 farmers receive for each hectare of field left fallow for one planting season.

One-quarter, or 220,000 hectares, of rice paddy fields are now fallow, which Ho said would produce one-tenth of the feed corn imported in a year.

Ho said the wholesale price of rice rose by 2.01 percent, fruit prices were up 0.9 percent, the price of hogs rose 0.2 percent, the price of vegetables fell 5 percent and the price of eggs dropped 3.3 percent.

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