28 March 2011

Profiteering

Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry recently set up Retail Price Watch Group to monitor the price of necessities and food, to prevent monopolistic practices and promote money-saving tips.

Department of Statistics currently monitors the sale of necessities, tracking the prices of items such as rice, fish, meat, eggs and vegetables, and prices of chicken rice and fish ball noodles commonly sold at food centres.  It will begin to monitor prices at food centres, to see which stalls have raised prices.

Retail Price Watch Group will take action against monopolistic and profiteering practices.

What action will be taken against profiteering practices?

Firstly, there appears to be no provision in existing legislation prohibiting the making of excessive profit, provided it is not the result of an unfair practice under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act or anti-competitive behaviour under the Competition Act.

Secondly, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to ascertain whether the quantity or the quality of a good has fallen, even if the price of the good is unchanged.

Thirdly, it is extremely difficult to tell a small business owner that he should not make excessive profit for the sake of the man in the street, when he is aware that many other people are getting fat pay packets, huge bonuses, and increments.  In any case, what constitutes excessive profit is subjective.

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