Mr Pritam Singh asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) over the past three years, what actions has the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore taken against retailers for profiteering that are consistent with the Ministry’s tough stance against profiteering; and (b) what new approaches does the Commission intend to take against profiteering going forward.
Mr Gan Kim Yong: MTI and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) take a multi-pronged approach against profiteering, including promoting competition, helping consumers make informed decisions, and encouraging a diversified supply chain. CCCS investigates all reports of anti-competitive behaviour by businesses, and firmly enforces action against such conduct. The CCCS’ Guidelines on Price Transparency states clearly the standards for ensuring transparent and accurate pricing which are essential for a well-functioning market. CCCS also works with CASE to leverage technology to help consumers make informed decisions on their purchases. For example, the Price Kaki app developed by CASE allows consumers to easily compare prices of groceries or hawker food items from different sellers.
Besides promoting good business practices and consumer habits, the Government also works with businesses to ensure there is ample supply of essential goods. For example, we have been actively diversifying our food supply sources and, more recently, working with manufacturers and distributors to ensure a reliable supply of face masks.
The Government keeps a close watch on the prices of essential goods and will not hesitate to investigate any reports of profiteering behaviour. The incidence of profiteering has generally been low. However, there have been exceptions, such as the initial high prices of masks at the early stage of the pandemic. When this happened, the Government stepped in quickly to investigate the merchants involved and issued letters of demand compelling them to declare their basis of pricing. This resulted in the merchants reducing their prices to more reasonable levels. We will continue our heightened level of surveillance, especially during this challenging period, to prevent profiteering and other anti-competitive conduct. We encourage consumers to report to MTI any suspected cases.
Ministry of Trade and Industry
15 February 2022