Taipei, April 17 (CNA) The Executive Yuan's Consumer Protection Department has persuaded seven major hypermarkets and supermarket chains to expand their existing "price-hike-resistant" special shopping zones as part of efforts to help consumers cope with rising commodity prices, department officials said Tuesday.
The retailers have agreed to add four more different kinds of commodity products -- crackers, beverages, eggs and frozen foods -- to the "special shopping zone," which already includes 12 kinds of commodities that are livelihood necessities and whose prices will not be changed even if there are price fluctuations in the domestic market, the 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 April 2 and a planned rise in domestic electricity rates slated for mid-May.
At the meeting, the retailers promised that as long as their suppliers don't raise prices, they will not change their prices. However, they also admitted that they cannot ignore suppliers' decisions to raise prices, or their threats to stop supplies if their price demands are not followed.
Meanwhile, in Taipei, the city government announced that same day measures aimed at preventing the surging prices of daily commodities from affecting citizens' daily lives.
The measures include reinforcing efforts to crack down on improper and unjust price hikes, opening special zones in shopping malls selling agricultural products tagged with "fair and generally-affordable prices" and providing subsidies to schools whose budgets are not enough to cover their electricity expenses if power rates are adjusted upward in May as planned, city government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang said.
The city will also closely monitor whether the lives of socially disadvantaged people will be impacted by the latest fuel price hikes and the plan to rise electricity prices, Chang added.
In Kaohsiung, the largest city in southern Taiwan, the city government has also been preparing for an expected hike in electricity prices, which it assessed will increase its spending in electricity consumption from NT$1.2 billion (US$40.65 million) per year to NT$1.4 billion, according to Lin Ying-pin, deputy director of economic development.
The measure requires major retailers, including shopping malls and department stores, to open "special shopping zones" selling daily necessities at cheap prices, Lin said.
(By Yang Shu-min, Johnson Sun, Wang Shwu-fen and Elizabeth Hsu)