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Speech by SPS Tan Wu Meng at the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) Fundraising Lunch 2019

Speech by SPS Tan Wu Meng at the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) Fundraising Lunch 2019

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, President, Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE),

Members of CASE Central Committee,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you this afternoon at CASE’s Fundraising Lunch. 

2. I understand that proceeds from today’s lunch will go towards CASE’s endowment fund, which supports its consumer education outreach and research projects. I want to thank and commend all our donors and corporate sponsors, for your contributions and support to empower our consumers in Singapore.

Consumer Empowerment Contributes to Well-Functioning and Innovative Markets 

3. Today, consumers have many choices: products and services, old and new; also many ways to browse and buy, online and offline. It is a marketplace quite different from 10 years ago. But how do we ensure that markets continue working well for our Singapore consumers and fellow Singaporeans? 

4. All of us have a role. Businesses and industry associations, consumer bodies like CASE, individuals, and the Government all can help markets function efficiently, and empower consumers to make better decisions with confidence. Let me highlight three ways.  

a. First, we have laws on competition and consumer protection.  Our laws prohibit unfair and anti-competitive practices. This helps consumers make informed decisions, and it helps suppliers compete fairly. 

b. Second, businesses and industry bodies can work together to raise industry standards.  You can do this by developing codes of conduct for your own industry as well. For example, CASE has been working with various industry associations, such as the Direct Selling Association of Singapore (DSAS) and the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVTA), to develop accreditation schemes that promote good trade practices among businesses.  This is important because it improves trust among consumers. When consumers trust an industry, it adds prestige and value to every member of that industry, and every member of that association.

c. Third, consumer awareness and consumer empowerment matters too.  As a consumer, when you know your rights, it helps you make better decisions.  As a consumer, when you are better informed, you are empowered to better discern good deals from those less worthwhile. And a community of well-informed, well-empowered consumers will motivate businesses to keep on innovating and improving their products and services. 

Launch of Price Kaki 

5. So how can we find new ways to empower our consumers?  As one Singapore family, as Singapore Together, how do we draw strength and knowledge and insights from our people, and in turn use it to empower our people together? I can share that CASE has been working with local supermarket chains and walking our food centres.  The team at CASE has been developing a crowdsourcing app for consumers to more easily access information on products and prices and compare the different options available. 

6. I spoke of this app during MTI’s Committee of Supply Debate earlier this year. Through this app, consumers can share price information which benefits the wider community.  It is like a network of ‘kakis’ to share tips on shopping – exchanging knowledge on the best deals. With this crowdsourcing network, everyone has a buddy; everyone can be a buddy – receiving and sharing information to make better decisions, and as the saying goes, “Long Zhong Ou Kaki, Long Zhong Si Kaki”. And this especially helps people with less time; people who are less aware of market prices; people who are less experienced shoppers. It is an app for shoppers from all walks of life, but it is also a way to help people starting with less. So it is actually a progressive move to build a more fair and equitable society. 通过这个新的应用程序,消费者更能比较价格,也顺便可以分享价格信息,互相合作,让广大的民众受惠。来自不同背景的同胞们,都可以省钱,省时,又省力。

7. So I am pleased to announce the launch of Price Kaki – a crowdsourcing app to help you compare and share prices for groceries and cooked food. The app will be made available for public download from 28 September. 

8. CASE will pilot the app in Tampines, Toa Payoh and Jurong West from 28 September to early 2020. By starting small, but dreaming big, this will give CASE the time it needs to test the app with consumers of different backgrounds and learn from the early user experience, before rolling the app out across Singapore in early 2020. 

9. During its pilot phase, the app will feature supermarkets and hawker stalls from Tampines, Toa Payoh, and Jurong West. Consumers and fellow Singaporeans from all walks of life will be able to search the prices of groceries and cooked food items using the app.  There will be filters and other settings as well – how near, what kind of items, so on. CASE will take you through the details during their demo later. On that note, I want to express our appreciation to stakeholders such as NTUC FairPrice, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket – for partnering and supporting us in the development of the Price Kaki app.   

10. CASE’s efforts do not end here. I am encouraging CASE to continue helping our fellow Singaporeans, consumers stretch hard-earned dollars with other tools to help our people make more informed decisions. CASE will share more in due course. 

11. Besides the price comparison component, there are also some fun features in the Price Kaki app – CASE has prepared a few mobile phones at the foyer for you to try your hands on. This product is the result of a lot of hard work, creativity and late nights by the team at CASE in the past year. When we empower our consumers, when we help our fellow Singaporeans have better information and make more empowered choices. I hope you enjoy the demo and support the app when it launches on 28 September. 

Conclusion

12. In closing, I thank all of you for being here to support CASE’s fundraising lunch. We will be counting on your support as CASE continues to advocate for fellow Singaporeans and our consumers in today’s fast changing consumer environment.

13. Thank you. 


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