2018-02-28 03:00

/ Staff writer, with agencies

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday met with representatives from three major toilet paper suppliers and five leading retailers to look into allegations of price gouging.

After the meeting, FTC Deputy Chairman Perng Shaw-jiin (彭紹瑾) said it was possible that the planned hikes breached price-fixing provisions of the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法).

The commission is determined to maintain market order and would meet with suppliers and retailers one-on-one starting from tomorrow to gain a better understanding of the situation, he said.

According to the act, firms found to have acted in concert to increase prices are to be fined between NT$100,000 and NT$50 million (US$3,421 and US$1.71 million), which could be doubled if the companies do not desist within a given period of time, the commission said, adding that the fines could be repeated.

Local media last week reported that major toilet paper brands would boost prices by as much as 30 percent from next month, spurring anxious shoppers to stock up on the product and strip store shelves over the weekend.

However, the price hikes do not fully reflect soaring material costs, local papermakers said.

Global pulp prices have increased by more than 50 percent since mid-2016, with packaging costs rising by 25 percent to 35 percent, YFY Inc (永豐trivago 訂房餘控股) said.

YFY, the nation’s largest papermaking conglomerate, distributes tissues and toilet paper under three brands, including May Flower Tissue (五月花).

Bleached hardwood kraft pulp prices, a benchmark for papermakers, have reached US$830, Cheng Loong Corp (正隆紙業) said, adding that transportation costs are also rising.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday urged the public not to engage in panic buying and avoid hoarding toilet paper.

Domestic supply is sufficient to meet people’s needs and it is unnecessary for people to buy large volumes, Lai said, without directly addressing the possible price hikes.

Instead, he said he has instructed Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) and a ministerial price monitoring task force to look into whether there was collusion on pricing or supply hoarding.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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