Rule to manage crisis supplies

08:34, February 23, 2011      

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China will revise a rule to manage supplies of daily necessities better in an emergency, and may demand that retailers report a supply shortage or panic buying within an hour to local commerce authorities.

The proposed rule revision was sparked by the frequent natural disasters in the country in recent years as well as speculation in agricultural products which caused living costs to rise. This year, China suffered droughts in central areas while many northern regions shivered through icy rains for days.

Earthquakes and severe infectious diseases are also defined as emergencies that can disrupt the supply of meat, vegetables, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, oil, aquatic products and cleaning products.

Sun Lijian, an economics professor at Fudan University, said the review is important to guarantee social stability and will give policy makers more power to put prices under control.

The Ministry of Commerce is now soliciting public opinions for the revision and views can be submitted before next Wednesday.

The draft revision requires retailers, such as supermarkets or big stores, to report panic buying, surging prices or a sudden shortage of products within an hour to the local commerce authority. A confirmed emergency should be reported to the local government within two hours and the ministry as soon as possible.

China has ordered heavier punishment in the middle of last year for people who swindle, conspire and hoard food to distort prices of agricultural products.

Chinese consumers last year had to pay surging prices for products ranging from green beans, garlic to apples, sugar and traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

China's Consumer Price Index, the main gauge of inflation, rose 4.9 percent annually in January on a 10.3-percent hike in food costs, including rice prices up 15.1 percent and eggs up 20.2 percent.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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