Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday reassured the public that the nation has sufficient supplies of fresh produce and tissue paper, and that people can shop without worries.
Su made the remarks at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei in response to media queries about his Facebook post on Thursday, which said that people can buy as much rice, fruit, seafood, processed food and tissue paper as they want, amid reports of panic buying at supermarkets.
The public need not be alarmed over news of panic buying abroad, as supplies of food staples and daily necessities are under control, Su said.
Photo copied by Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times
The nation has sufficient food supplies, thanks to its robust agricultural, food processing and fishery industries, he said.
It has more than enough tissue paper, with production running at only about 60 percent of capacity, he said.
If people are afraid of dining out because of concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, they are welcome to buy more fruit and vegetables to boost produce sales, he said.
However, that does not mean people should hoard daily necessities, the premier said, adding that those who engage in profiteering by driving up prices would be promptly and severely punished by law.
Asked if the panic buying could have been triggered by false reports, Su said that people who spread disinformation about food or daily necessities running short would also face penalties.
Later, at a legislative question-and-answer session, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才) said that photographs of people waiting in long lines to check out groceries on Thursday resembled a doomsday scene from a zombie movie.
He asked Su to reassure the public that there is no need to engage in panic buying.
Su said that judging by their current output, toilet paper manufacturers can immediately increase production if required.
He added that the government has 900,000 tonnes of rice in reserve and that the harvesting season is near.
Asked if there is no shortage of food and daily commodities, the premier said: “Correct.”
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) asked Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) whether there is any truth in reports that disinformation online sparked the panic buying.
The government has taken action to curb the spread of false information and the culprits would be held to account, Chao said.
Tsai said that the ministry had located the sources of disinformation, which are likely domestic, and would take legal action against them.
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