Mr Shawn Huang Wei Zhong: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what are the measures taken to ensure that food remains affordable in 2023, given that the Consumer Price Index for food increased by 7.3% year-on-year as reported in November 2022 by the Department of Statistics.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong
1. Between January and November 2022, global food prices rose by 15.9% compared to the same period of the previous year. As Singapore imports most of our food supplies, we are inevitably experiencing higher food prices as well as price fluctuations.
2. The Government has put in place several measures to mitigate the effects of rising food prices. The first is having a strong Singapore dollar. The last five rounds of tightening of Singapore’s exchange rate-centred monetary policy have helped to moderate the pass-through effects of external inflationary pressures.
3. Second, we continue to diversify our sources of food supply to reduce our exposure to supply disruptions or price surges in specific regions or countries. We also encourage Singaporeans to consider different food choices to help manage their budget. In addition, consumers can shop wisely and stretch their dollars by using the Price Kaki App developed by CASE to compare the prices of food items from different suppliers.
4. Third, the Government provides support to households to help defray their expenses. The support provided in 2022 through the various support packages covers fully the inflation in cost of living for lower-income and retiree households in 2022 on average, and over half of that for middle-income households.
5. In October 2022, the Government announced a further $1.5b Support Package. The package includes the Community Development Council (CDC) Vouchers Scheme, the latest tranche of which was just launched on 3 January 2023. All Singaporean households are eligible for a total of $300 worth CDC Vouchers in 2023 which they can use at participating hawkers, heartland merchants and supermarkets for their daily essentials.
6. Some companies have also, admirably, made efforts to cushion the price increase for their customers. For example, major retailers like NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Giant have announced that they will be absorbing the 2023 GST increase on essential items for the first three to six months of the year.
7. The Government will continue to monitor the situation and is prepared to do more if necessary.