Retailer Deen Express asked to explain high prices for masks: MTI

Retailer Deen Express asked to explain high prices for masks: MTI

People stocking up on mask, wuhan virus outbreak, singapore jan 29 (5)
Many were seen queueing at a medical supply store at Sturdee Rd in Singapore on Jan 29 to purchase surgical masks. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: A letter of demand has been sent to retailer Deen Express after complaints from the public of masks being sold at high prices at its store.

The Price Controller asked Deen Express to explain the “basis of their selling prices for the sale of masks, including their cost price and profit margins”, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a news release on Thursday (Jan 30).

“MTI will use such information to assess the need for further action under the Price Control Act.”

READ: Supply of masks in Singapore 'enough' if managed properly: Chan Chun Sing

Letters were also sent to e-commerce platforms Lazada, Carousell and Qoo10 to request information on potential profiteers using their platforms.

The companies must respond by Monday.

Companies who fail to do so could be liable to a fine of up to S$10,000 for the first offence and up to S$20,000 for the second and subsequent offences.

READ: Singapore households to get 4 face masks each

Retailers islandwide have reported overwhelming demand for masks amid worries about a coronavirus that originated from Wuhan in China.

On Thursday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced that each Singapore household will receive four surgical face masks to ensure that families will have access to them should the need arise.

READ: Wuhan virus in Singapore: The first 7 days

READ: Wuhan virus: 3 new cases confirmed in Singapore, bringing tally to 13

“Profiteering is highly irresponsible and damaging in these uncertain times,” MTI said. “We urge all retailers to practise corporate social responsibility and not take advantage of the increased demand to raise prices unreasonably.”

“We will work closely with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to monitor the situation and investigate any unfair and anti-competitive practices,” the ministry added.

It also urged the public to report errant sellers to CASE.

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Source: CNA/ga(hm)