Ministry and big discount stores meet about prices

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Ministry and big discount stores meet about prices

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy summoned vice presidents of three discount chains yesterday ahead of a government meeting on inflation scheduled for today.

The ministry said the main topics of discussion were price stability and reform of the distribution structure to counter price increases for processed foods.

The meeting chaired by Chung Jae-hoon, deputy minister for industrial economic policy, was attended by executives of E-Mart, Homeplus and Lotte Mart.

“The ministry, which is responsible for inflation of the manufactured goods, hoped to suggest further cooperation with the large discount chains, ahead of the inflation meeting at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance,” said an official of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy’s distribution and logistics division.

The ministry commended the stores for a variety of sales events and providing discounts while urging them to press on with further efforts to hold the line on prices.

At a separate briefing, Cho Won-dong, President Park Geun-hye’s top economic aide, said the new administration cannot do anything about a plan to raise public utility bills.

“The decision of the former government to raise utility bills is realistic in its own way. Even if the utility bills go up, the government is holding weekly anti-inflation meetings so private companies will not raise prices along with the rising bills. Some companies that already jacked up prices are now scrapping their hikes,” said Cho.

Samlib and CJ, which were not at the meeting, recently said they will not raise prices as previously announced.

Cho said the key to price stabilization is to root out problems in the distribution of consumer goods, an issue Park has mentioned several times.

“The biggest difficulty for consumers is the cost of vegetables and fresh produce,” he said. “The government will control vegetable prices through adjusting the supply and demand with the government stockpile. Currently, there is a special task force established inside the government to study restructuring of the distribution process.”


By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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