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Food Prices Stabilized for Upcoming Holidays
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As China's Consumer Price Index (CPI), a barometer of inflation, rose 6.5 percent year-on-year in August, the highest level in nearly 11 years, people may be concerned about whether prices will be further raised by intensified demands during the upcoming two holidays, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on September 25 this year, and the National Day holiday, which will last from October 1 to 7.


Their concerns may be somewhat eased as six governmental departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, jointly issued a circular ordering local authorities to ensure goods supply during the two holidays.


Competent local departments should use the live pig and frozen pork reserves to guarantee sufficient supplies for increased holiday demands, said the circular. It also asked them to well coordinate the supply of edible oil, eggs and vegetables as well as other important foodstuff.


Special inspections will be launched during the holidays to regulate the prices of edible oil, pork, moon cakes and other consumer necessities. Admission prices at tourism resorts, prices of medicine and transportation will also be targeted.


The circular called for extreme caution in taking government-lifted price measures, saying in principle no such measures will be permitted this year. For commodities and services under the government-guided or government-ordered price mechanism, relevant state regulations should be strictly observed and no violations will be allowed.


In cases where local governments need to raise the prices of certain commodities for particular reasons, they must first obtain approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top pricing authority.


Local authorities should also keep the price monitoring and report system well in place to give rapid alerts for any abnormal price fluctuations and take emergency measures to correct the situation.


Supervision over food safety will also be further strengthened to ensure no water-injected meat, sick- or dead pig-produced pork and other foodstuffs that do not undergo or fail the quality checks can find their way into the market.


Phone number 12358 will be in service around the clock for consumers to report any illegal price hikes.


Low-income groups and poor students are given special attention in the circular. It directed the local governments to raise the minimum subsistence allowances and the minimum wages standards and give temporary subsidies for low-income groups as soon as possible, based on the hike in prices for pork and other non-staple foodstuffs.


Food and non-staple foodstuff supplies at colleges and universities should be guaranteed and their prices should be stabilized. Poor students should be given necessary aid to ensure their normal life and study.


( by Yuan Fang, September 13, 2007)

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