LCQ12: Price data across districts
Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, to a question by the Dr Hon David Li in the Legislative Council today (December 14):
According to the findings announced in June this year of a survey conducted by a trade union organisation which compared the prices of selected commodities at wet markets in various districts, the food prices in the wet markets in Tung Chung are the highest in Hong Kong, even though it is one of the poorest districts in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it had conducted any comparative survey of the prices of basic food items in the Consumer Price Index by District Council district in the past three years; if it had, how the outcome compares with the aforesaid survey findings;
(b) whether it had studied in the past three years the reasons why food prices were higher in certain districts with high concentrations of low-income families; if it had, of the findings; and
(c) whether it has assessed if the issue in (b) should be addressed through greater government intervention, or through greater transparency and better operation of the free market through measures including the introduction of legislation?
(a) and (b) The Administration does not compile data on prices of basic food items in the Consumer Price Indices (CPIs) by District Council districts. For compiling the CPIs, the Census and Statistics Department collects price data of consumer goods and services through a Monthly Retail Price Survey which is designed to collect price data for reflecting the change in consumer prices for the overall economy in Hong Kong.
(c) The Consumer Council undertakes a Weekly Price Survey project the objective of which is to inform consumers of possible price differentials among shops in a particular district at a particular point in time. Under this project, the Council selects a district each week and surveys the retail prices of some 40 food items and daily necessities put up for sale by some 20 retail points of different nature. Although the project does not seek to compare prices across districts, it helps enhance price transparency and facilitate the flow of market information, thereby helping consumers make smarter shopping choices.
Separately, we have introduced the Competition Bill into this Council. The Bill seeks to tackle anti-competitive agreements or abuse of a substantial degree of market power that prevent, restrict or distort competition in Hong Kong. While the Bill does not target at market structure, it seeks to safeguard a level-playing field in the market by deterring and sanctioning anti-competitive conduct, thereby promoting sustainable competition, enhancing economic efficiency and bringing benefits to different sectors of the community.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011