Commerce Minister Chen Deming has urged commerce departments at all levels to ensure enough supply of products during public holidays such as Spring Festival and the Beijing Olympic Games.
"Our top priority is to ensure sufficient supply of major commodities, such as grain, edible oil and meat products," Chen said at a national commerce working conference concluded on Saturday.
Local departments should watch market fluctuations of major commodities closely to prevent an all-round rise in prices, and governments at all levels should pay special attention to the needs of low-income families and college students, he said.
Departments should forecast prices to help consumers and step up production to ensure market supply.
Sale of consumer goods in the country surged 17 percent to reach 8.9 trillion yuan ($1.22 trillion) last year.
The increase is more than the national output growth and is significantly higher than the growth rate of consumer goods' retail sales in 2006, which was 13.7 percent and reached 7.6 trillion yuan ($1.04 trillion).
Chinese consumers spent more on their daily necessities such as pork and edible oil last year because of price hikes, with the consumer price index (CPI) remaining high.
Official statistics show edible oil, pork and beef prices jumped 58 percent, 43 percent and 46 percent year-on-year in 36 large- and medium-sized cities in early January.
The country has a reserve of 22 products in 23 provincial regions to ensure enough market supply. A primary market supervision network covering 22 distribution industries and 600 consumer goods is in place, too.
Last week, the government moved to prevent prices of key household commodities such as grains, edible oil, meat, milk, eggs and liquefied petroleum gas from rising as people began shopping for Spring Festival, which starts on February 7. It was the latest in a series of moves the government has taken since July to check inflation.
(China Daily, Xinhua January 21, 2008)