The Consumer Protection Commission has persuaded seven major hypermarkets and supermarket chains to expand their existing “price-hike-resistant” special shopping zones to help consumers cope with rising commodity prices, officials said yesterday.
The retailers have agreed to add four more commodity products — crackers, beverages, eggs and frozen foods — to the “special shopping zone,” which already includes 12 types of commodities that are considered basic necessities and whose prices are not affected by price fluctuations in the market, commission officials said.
The special shopping zone already includes products like rice, noodles, milk powder, cooking oil and soy sauce. Other products are instant noodles, tissues, shampoo, shower gel, soap, toothpaste and detergent. The supermarkets that have agreed to the plan are Carrefour, RTMart, A.Mart, Wellcome, Matsusei, Pxmart and Taisuco, the officials said after a meeting with representatives of the retailers earlier in the day to discuss recent price fluctuations triggered by a hike in fuel prices on April 2.
Fears of further price increases have risen following the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ announcement last week that electricity rates would rise by an average of 17 percent for households, 30 percent for commercial establishments and 35 percent for industrial users on May 15.
At the meeting, the retailers promised that as long as their suppliers do not raise prices, they will not change their prices. However, they added that they cannot stop suppliers from raising prices, or ignore their threat to stop supplies if their demand for price increases are not met.
The Taipei City Government yesterday also announced measures aimed at capping surging commodity prices. These include launching spot inspections of hypermarkets and convenience stores to check for unreasonable price hikes, subsidizing energy expenses of public schools whose budgets are not enough to cover their power bills and providing financial assistance to disadvantaged groups.
The city government also promised not to raise school lunch fees and administrative fees this year.
It added that it would replace 70,000 conventional street lamps and lights in public parking lots with LED bulbs by 2014 to reduce power consumption.
The city government will also replace 59 air-conditioning systems that have been in use for 15 years or more at Taipei City Hall and other government buildings.
The LED installations and new air conditioners will cost the city government more than NT$700 million (US$23 million).
Taipei City Secretariat Commissioner Cheng Yeong-ren (陳永仁) said the measure would save between 40 percent and 50 percent in electricity costs, adding that it would take four to five years to recover the costs.
In Greater Kaohsiung, the government has also been preparing for an expected hike in electricity prices, which it said would raise its annual electricity expenses to NT$1.4 billion from NT$1.2 billion, said Lin Ying-pin (林英斌), deputy director of Greater Kaohsiung’s Economic Development Bureau.
Lin said major retailers, including shopping malls and department stores, have also agreed to open “special shopping zones” selling daily necessities at cheap prices.