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Another good example of how LIEgime govt teams up with corporates [especially govt companies] to screw the public, even over such items as masks to protect health against haze

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  • Robert Ho
    If Govt doesn’t reveal prices, how would anyone know if Govt or retailers are not profiteering from
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2013
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      If Govt doesn’t reveal prices, how would anyone know if Govt or retailers are not profiteering from masks?

      The mainstream media reported the following news on 23 June: ‘Do not profit from haze: Vivian Balakrishnan’ [Link].

      In the news report, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan urged retailers not to take advantage of the haze situation to profit from selling N95 masks.

      On the same day, publichouse.sg posted a Facebook comment [Link], urging the minister to name the retailers which may be profiteering from the haze:

      Interestingly, in the publichouse.sg Facebook thread, a Straits Times (ST) reporter, Feng Zengkun [Link] joined in and replied to publichouse.sg. The following is the conversation between Feng Zengkun and publichouse.sg:

      Zengkun Feng: I don’t think the piece put his remarks in context (I was there). He was asked by a reporter about concerns that retailers would jack up prices of masks given by the govt. That’s why he urged them not to do so. He didn’t have any in mind and was just responding to a question.
      (Monday at 1:10am)

      publichouse.sg: Zengkun, then perhaps he should disclose how much the govt sold the masks to the retail outlets for. This will enable S’poreans to know whether an outlet is profiteering or not. Did you ask him to do this, since you were there?
      (Monday at 7:57am)

      publichouse.sg: Is the govt prepared to name the outlets? Did the reporter/s who asked the question know of any such outlets? Is he/she prepared to name them?
      (Monday at 8:16am)

      Zengkun Feng: The reporter didn’t name outlets; it was just a general concern. I’m sure you’ve seen the online photos though. It looks like mainly the smaller shops so far have been profiteering. (Or at least I don’t recognise many of the names — I haven’t seen any of the larger outlets, or recipients of the govt masks, accused yet. There’s a photo going around supposedly showing Cold Storage jacking up the price from $56 to $78, but that one is wrong. The $78 is actually for a different, supposedly more comfortable range of masks.)

      This is one of the photos — http://sgthinker.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/cash_in_on_haze_by_selling_masks_at_jackedup_prices-thumbnail.jpg
      (Monday at 10:35am)

      Zengkun Feng: Also, yes, we asked Vivian about the govt sale of the masks to retailers; what’s the financial arrangement, why not distribute for free instead of giving to retailers; and whether price caps have been imposed not just on NTUC but on other recipients as well. — he said to refer to MOH, which is fair, since it is MOH’s area. But Vivian’s doorstop was at 9pm, so it was too late to get a reply from MOH. Someone from ST is asking Ng Eng Hen about this today during his site visits though.
      (Monday at 10:36am)

      publichouse.sg: Thanks, Zengkun. We look forward to the report then. Also hope the report will seek independent verification and not just regurgitate what any minister might say.
      (Monday at 10:48am)

      publichouse.sg: Maybe pay a visit to the stores and look at customers’ receipts will help?
      (Monday at 1:33pm)

      Zengkun Feng: We already have the prices from the retailers, and reporters have gone to the stores in recent days to compile prices. But without knowing how much they paid the govt / how much the govt paid, those prices are meaningless in determining whether there’s profiteering. So hopefully the govt will answer those questions today!
      (Monday at 1:34pm)

      publichouse.sg: Zengkun, nothing in the ST on this today (Tuesday, 25 June)?
      (Tuesday at 12:25pm)

      publichouse.sg: Did the govt answer your questions about the prices?
      (Tuesday at 12:26pm)

      Zengkun Feng: I’ll post the link when the story is written and published.
      (Tuesday at 1:10pm)

      Zengkun Feng: The story will be published in print tomorrow, but you may have already seen the online stories. Govt is saying it recoups the cost of masks from retailers + transport and storage costs. (Presumably this is in case it needs to buy more.) Doesn’t give figures. Large retailers – Guardian, Watson, etc – themselves have stuck close to or below 3M recommended prices for the masks and limited sales per person, based on visits to their stores. Doesn’t look like the large retailers are profiteering (making a profit, maybe, but not profiteering).
      (21 hours ago) – about Wed 7pm

      In other words, like what Mr Feng said on Mon at 1:34pm, without knowing how much the Govt paid for the masks and how much the Govt sold the masks for to the retailers, it is difficult to determine if there is profiteering by anyone, including the Govt.

      Even the ST reporter Mr Feng was hoping that Dr Ng Eng Hen would answer these questions. Mr Feng had said (Mon at 10:36am) someone from ST will be asking Dr Ng about it.

      Then yesterday (wed 26 Jun), posting in the same thread, Mr Feng informed everyone that ST will be running the story today (27 Jun).

      However, in the ST article today, there was no mention of how much MOH paid and sold the masks for:

      So, did ST reporters pose those questions to Dr Ng? Apparently, there was no answer.
      If Minister Vivian Balakrishnan wants retailers not to profiteer, shouldn’t Dr Ng or MOH make it known how much the masks were sold to the retailers for? For that matter, to show to the public that the Govt is not profiteering, shouldn’t Dr Ng or MOH reveal to the public how much they paid for the masks before re-selling them to retailers?

      About the only answer the public can get is from the MOH website:http://www.moh.gov.sg/moh_health_advisory.htm.

      It says:

      To date, a total of 4.15 million N95 masks have been released from MOH’s stockpile: 3.15 million to retailers and 1 million to the People’s Association for distribution to low-income families. The cost of the masks, including transport and storage, is recovered from the retailers.

      In other words, we only know that the cost of the masks, including transport and storage, is recovered from the retailers.


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