Officials said on Thursday the government is determined to crackdown on illegal pricing and is confident of winning the battle.
Cao Changqing, director of the Pricing Department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the government was confident it could successfully curb illegal pricing, including overly fast increases in prices, with measures to boost supply and control prices.
"The pricing authorities are boosting market monitoring and checkups nationwide. They will clamp down mercilessly on illegal pricing cases once found," Cao told Xinhua.
The government recently had undertaken a series of measures to prevent inflation.
It announced on Wednesday temporary price interventions in a package of products, including grain, edible oil, meat, milk, eggs and liquefied natural gas (LNG). On Sunday, it nearly tripled the maximum fine for illegal pricing to one million yuan (137,800 U.S. dollars).
A recent clampdown on illegal pricing had also helped to bring down LNG retail prices by up to 19 percent in major Chinese cities, the NDRC said on Tuesday.
"The pricing interventions aim to prevent unreasonable price increases in daily necessities and reduce people's living costs," said Zhou Wangjun, the Pricing Department deputy director.
In spite of all the measures, prices will continue to rise for some time before the shortage in agricultural products, the main culprit for high inflation, was greatly eased, Cao admitted.
"We will not intervene if the company's price hikes are reasonable. However, we allow no illegal and unreasonable prices rises."
Zhou added, "The government has not asked and will not ask companies to run business while making losses." He said the pricing interventions only involved a small number of companies and goods and that would not affect the market's role in setting prices for the majority of goods.
The government had taken measures to stabilize prices of production materials, electricity and fuel to prevent overly-high growth in production costs.
(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2008)