Protecting S’poreans against egregious businesses

With the recent GST hike, there is the fear that black sheep merchants would use it as an excuse to increase their prices without justification.

But besides publicly shaming such errant businesses, what other enforcement powers do the Government have? West Coast GRC Member of Parliament Ms Foo Mee Har asked this in Parliament on Jan 9, 2023.

CAP to the rescue

Source: Singapore Food Agency

In response, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling gave the reassurance that the Committee Against Profiteering (CAP), which was set up to investigate unjustified price increases of essential goods and services using GST increase as an excuse, will continue to review all feedback received and engage businesses to address the issue.

“The CAP is prepared to publicly highlight egregious businesses which engaged in GST misrepresentation,” warned Minister Low. 

Currently, consumers can report instances of GST misrepresentation through an online feedback form, via the CAP hotline (6797 0618), or at their nearest community centres. 

As for engaging businesses, MOS Low elaborated on how various government departments and associations are now working together to help merchants achieve transparency in their pricing and communications. 

The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) has published best practices on price display and communication. Meanwhile, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has also issued an advisory on how businesses should communicate their reasons on price and fee adjustments to consumers. 

“For instance,” said Minister Low, “the Federation of Merchants’ Association Singapore and the Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore have conducted extensive outreach and walkabouts in coffeeshops, HDB shops, hawker centres to remind their members of the need to be transparent about their pricing.” 

Making informed choices

Source: Google Play

Following up, Ms Foo asked if the prices of essential items could be made available for public reference to help consumers avoid falling prey to unjustified price hikes.

To this, MOS Low replied that consumers can make use of Price Kaki, an app developed by CASE that allows the public to compare prices of over 10,000 supermarket products and 37,000 cooked food items in food courts, coffee shops, and hawker centres.

All this information at your finger tips.

And even though the Price Kaki app is not exactly new, a nifty, money-saving feature was added at the start of this year.

With the rising cost of living at the forefront of our minds, such a function will be particularly useful in helping us compare the per-unit prices of more than 1,200 grocery items.

Explaining how the feature came about, Minister Low said, “We heard a lot of feedback from fellow Singaporeans about the need to understand the price changes per unit. And this feature helps the consumers distinguish and compare the per unit value of pre-packaged products of different brands and similar products of differing quantity, volume or packaging.”

“The Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) and Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) will continue to work closely with CASE team to strengthen and enhance the Price Kaki app. We want our fellow Singaporeans to have a wide range of choices and make informed purchasing decisions,” concluded Minister Low.

Cover Photo Credit: Low Yen Ling via Facebook/Google Play