Monitor effects of boycott of haze-linked products

The firms that signed the haze-free declaration are laudable ("More firms on board for 'haze-free' declaration"; Oct 8).

As there are so many items affected - such as printer paper, facial tissues, kitchen towels, wet tissues, and toilet paper - the cumulative effect of such an action is huge.

Already, FairPrice has announced that the move to pull Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) items off its shelves has cost the chain millions of dollars ("Supermarkets pull plug on haze-linked firm's products"; Oct 8).

Based on this dollar value, the amount of products taken off the shelves is certainly not small.

This raises questions as to how households, especially those in the lower-income group, will be affected ("Ensure the needy don't end up paying the price" by Mr Chan Yeow Chuan; Oct 9).

Companies whose products are not affected by the boycott may increase their prices to take advantage of the artificial shortage and demand.

Similarly, suppliers and distributors may also raise their prices.

Consumers are anxious to know what can be done to prevent profiteering.

It is always supply and demand that dictate prices. But sometimes, people have no choice but to pay higher prices because of the limited alternatives.

We should remember how wet market stalls and supermarket chains raised egg prices after the authorities here imposed an export ban on two chicken farms in Malaysia ("Egg prices up by 5% as supply from Malaysia falls"; Aug 7, 2014).

The Consumers Association of Singapore should monitor the situation closely, while the Competition Commission of Singapore should remind suppliers of the stiff penalties of price collusion.

The authorities should keep an eye on possible hoarding as well. It may not happen now but later.

In the interim, our supermarkets should work with other exporting countries to increase the supply of paper products that carry the green label.

Francis Cheng

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