Com­pa­nies fined for rais­ing prices

China Daily (USA) - - POLICY REVIEW - By WANG YANFEI wangyan­fei@chi­

De­part­ments and min­istries un­der the State Coun­cil, China’s Cab­i­net, have re­sponded to a se­ries of pub­lic con­cerns in the past week, in­clud­ing on food safety, ab­nor­mal price fluc­tu­a­tions and health­care re­form.

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, the coun­try’s top pric­ing reg­u­la­tor, has is­sued fines of 2 mil­lion yuan ($301,700) apiece to six com­pa­nies for rais­ing prices since May, after the na­tion rolled out value-added tax re­forms that cover con­struc­tion, prop­erty ser­vice and other re­lated in­dus­tries. The com­pa­nies in­clude the Ritz Carl­ton and Crowne Plaza ho­tels in Bei­jing, New World De­vel­op­ment, China World Trade Cen­ter in Shang­hai and Heng Long Prop­er­ties in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

In re­sponse to con­cerns over food safety prob­lems re­vealed by re­cent me­dia cov­er­age, the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion said that China will en­hance reg­u­la­tions, su­per­vi­sion, and co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal gov­ern­ments in an ef­fort to crack down on food safety vi­o­la­tions. The lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Yingkou, of China’s north­east Liaon­ing prov­ince, shut down seven food fac­to­ries for il­le­gally adding toxic gelatin and sodium ni­trite to food prod­ucts such as sausages, ac­cord­ing to re­cent me­dia re­ports. The lo­cal po­lice seized six tons of poi­sonous food prod­ucts and 3.6 tons of il­le­gal ad­di­tives.

In re­sponse to con­cerns over ab­nor­mal price fluc­tu­a­tions due to the re­cent floods, Gao Hucheng, min­is­ter of com­merce, said last week that in the event of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, en­ter­prises are al­lowed to limit prices for sale. Gao stressed that it is im­por­tant to main­tain a suf­fi­cient sup­ply of emer­gency food re­lief and other ma­te­ri­als in dis­as­ter-prone re­gions.

In re­sponse to con­cerns over dis­as­ter re­lief in light of the re­cent heavy floods in the south­ern parts of China, Yang Xiaodong, deputy direc­tor of the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs’ dis­as­ter re­lief di­vi­sion, said they were work­ing with the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Re­duc­tion Cen­ter to en­hance real-time sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis, dis­as­ter warn­ing and emer­gency re­sponse sys­tems, which op­er­ate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The min­istry will send out teams to carry out in­spec­tions on the lo­cal dis­as­ter re­lief process if se­ri­ous nat­u­ral dis­as­ters oc­cur, Yang said.

The Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity said that China is step­ping up ef­forts to im­prove the pub­lic health­care sys­tem. Bei­jing, the Xin­jiang Uygur and In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gions and He­bei, Jiangxi, Hu­nan and Guangxi prov­inces have submitted plans to re­duce health­care ser­vice dis­par­i­ties be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral res­i­dents. So far, a to­tal of 17 prov­inces and cities have ei­ther submitted plans for, or have adopted uni­fied man­age­ment of, the ba­sic med­i­cal in­sur­ance sys­tem that al­lows both ur­ban and ru­ral res­i­dents to equally ben­e­fit from pub­lic health­care. A uni­fied sys­tem to man­age the health­care ser­vice helps re­duce inequal­ity caused by the house­hold regis­tra­tion sys­tem, known as hukou, that pre­vents un­reg­is­tered ru­ral cit­i­zens ben­e­fit­ing from the ur­ban health­care ser­vice and so­cial wel­fare, the min­istry said.

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