WE THANK Mr James Wong for his feedback ("Tackle big business, not hawkers, about price hikes", Sunday).
The Retail Price Watch Group (RPWG) has been set up to keep a close watch on any excessive price increases of daily necessities and anti-competitive behaviour from businesses in Singapore.
The watch group's objective is not to control prices. Keeping prices artificially low is not sustainable and will create other problems such as hoarding, shortages and black markets.
It is more effective to ensure that market forces work to the advantage of consumers. Therefore, the watch group encourages competition and raises consumers' awareness of cheaper alternatives.
It also works with grassroots leaders to ensure that information on the availability of low-price alternatives reaches the public.
This includes the 'I support Retail Price Watch Group' sticker, which helps the public to identify food sellers who have maintained prices. RPWG believes that greater publicity given to these stalls will help them sell more and thus increase their revenues. It will be a win-win situation for both the stalls and consumers.
This initiative is voluntary, and there is no obligation for any hawker to hold prices. To date, more than 1,000 hawkers, who had no plans to increase prices in the first place, have decided to publicise their intentions. In this way, they hope that more customers will patronise their stalls.
The watch group's initiatives are not restricted to hawker and foodcourt stalls. In fact, when the group was first launched in February this year, it partnered three top supermarket chains - FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Dairy Farm Group - to announce the supermarket chains' intention to keep the prices of hundreds of their house brands fixed for the next six months.
Subsequently, the group visited foodcourt chains, which serve a different segment of consumers from the hawker centres.
The watch group adopts a broad-based approach and welcomes any businesses to support its cause.
Mrs Cindy Keng
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Trade and Industry