Reports of a potential sharp rise in the price of toilet paper might have been the result of deliberate price manipulation, the Cabinet said yesterday as it vowed to prevent price collusion and reassured the public that there is a sufficient supply of toilet paper at reasonable prices.
Media reports of a price hike and panic buying by the public might have been the consequence of a deliberate attempt to drive up prices, and is being investigated by the Fair Trade Commission and the Consumer Protection Committee, Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) said at a Cabinet news conference attended by top finance officials.
Price competition between the nation’s three toilet paper manufacturers is fierce, Shih said, adding that the market presents strong motivation for price collusion because if only one manufacturer announced a price hike, it would likely lose out on sales.
It is likely that the companies deliberately fanned the fears of consumers by spreading reports of a price hike, he said.
“The Fair Trade Commission will investigate whether the manufacturers spread reports through the media as part of a pending price hike and whether there was any collusion involved that enabled them to ‘bravely’ announce the price increase together,” commission Chairwoman Huang Mei-ying (黃美瑛) said.
The commission has launched an investigation, interviewing the manufacturers and five top chain retailers to uncover if there was any illegal activity, Huang said.
While the expected rise in toilet paper prices was reportedly the result of an increase in international pulp prices, the Council of Agriculture said that pulp prices over the past five years have been dropping.
The price of paper pulp decreased from NT$75.7 per kilogram in 2013 to NT$45.5 per kilogram in 2014 and to NT$43.1 last year, while the price of paper pulp in January this year was NT$43.2 per kilogram, showing a stable and gently downward trend in international pulp prices, council Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said.
A recent announcement of a 3 percent pay hike for public employees does not cause commodity prices to jump because the pay increase is paid with pre-allocated government funds and does not create extra governmental spending or inflation, Shih said.
A salary increase in the private sector has minimal impact on commodity prices because companies traded on local bourses increased revenue from NT$1.21 trillion in 2016 to NT$2.1 trillion last year (US$41.27 billion to US$71.63 billion at the current exchange rate), meaning that they have enough cash to afford the pay increase without affecting commodity prices, Shih said.
Inflation this year is expected to remain at a low level of between 0.88 percent and 1.3 percent, he added.
Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said there is an ample supply of toilet paper and urged the public not to stockpile.
Toilet paper was yesterday available in large quantities at major retail outlets, according to the Cabinet’s field investigation, Hsu said.
The committee has asked manufacturers not to raise toilet paper prices before March 15, but that does not mean that prices are to go up afterward as the public fears, Hsu said.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each