SINGAPORE: A crowdsourcing mobile application that allows consumers to compare retail prices of groceries, household items and hawker food will be rolled out across Singapore “in the coming months”, announced Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng on Tuesday (Mar 3).
The app, called Price Kaki, allows users to share information about prices of items or dishes, while comparing and tracking price changes.
A pilot test involving 31 supermarkets and 11 hawker centres in Tampines, Toa Payoh and Jurong West was started by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in September last year.
Since then, almost 15,000 users have registered with the app, which has more than 550,000 crowdsourced entries, said Dr Tan in Parliament.
To date, there have been 1.06 million product views for supermarket groceries and household items on the app, of which 305,000 took place last month, said CASE’s vice-president Melvin Yong, in response to a question from CNA about app usage during the COVID outbreak.
The most commonly-viewed items were milk, instant noodles, eggs and instant coffee, he added.
Dr Tan told the House: “Price Kaki helps people who have less time, who are less aware of the market prices, who are less experienced shoppers. It’s an app for everyone across all walks of life but especially people who may be starting with less.
“It is a progressive move to help build a more fair and more equitable society.”
Speaking during the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Committee of Supply debate, Dr Tan also announced that CASE will be launching a Consumer Empowerment Panel in April to look into cost of living issues.
“The panel will work together with associations, unions and grassroots leaders, to engage and help consumers like you stretch your hard-earned dollar,” he said.
Mr Yong, who is also the chairperson of CASE’s Consumer Empowerment Taskforce, said the panel hopes to “engage and empower consumers to choose and make informed purchasing decisions”.
“Through these efforts, we hope to help consumers better manage cost of living issues," he told CNA in an emailed response.
These are part of the Government’s strategy to continue strengthening consumer protection, he added. Other ways include reviewing relevant laws to ensure they stay effective in deterring unfair practices, and raising industry standards.
On the latter, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore has developed a set of guidelines on the “dos and don’ts on price transparency” for all consumer-facing industries to avoid misleading consumers.
These guidelines, which are set to be published "in due course", will apply to both online and offline transactions, said Dr Tan.
On Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan’s question about errant retailers that attempted to profiteer from the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Dr Tan referred to how MTI exercised its powers under the Price Control Act to question two retailers about the basis of their prices following public complaints.
“The retailers subsequently apologised and reduced their prices,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”
MTI issued letters of demand to retailers Deen Express and 3 Stars on Jan 30 and Feb 10, respectively, after complaints about masks being sold at high prices at these stores. Both have since apologised and adjusted their prices.