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Committee reconvened to address concerns that businesses could use GST hike to raise prices

A committee has been reconvened to address concerns that businesses could use the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a cover to raise prices.

The 13-member Committee Against Profiteering (CAP) will look into feedback on unjustified price increases of essential products and services, and focus on daily items commonly consumed or used by Singaporean households, such as eggs and chicken.

Chaired by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, the committee held its first meeting on Wednesday (March 16). Its other members include representatives from different industries, grassroots organisations and MPs.

Ms Low said there will be various channels for the public to raise their feedback or report any businesses suspected of using the GST as a pretext for higher prices.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong had first announced that the committee would be formed during his Budget speech in February, when he set out how Singapore's GST rate will increase from 7 per cent to 9 per cent in two stages - by one percentage point each time on Jan 1, 2023, and Jan 1, 2024.

The committee was first set up in 1994, the year GST was first introduced, and reconvened during previous rounds of GST increases in 2003 and 2007.

Like before, the reconvened committee will guard against profiteering on essential food items, such as eggs, chicken, vegetables, and meals from hawker centres and coffee shops, as well as non-food essentials like household products.

In a statement, the committee said it will work with partner agencies and organisations to investigate feedback, including the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, the People's Association and the Consumers Association of Singapore.

The committee will also engage businesses to find out why they raised prices and evaluate their explanations, to determine if their price hike constitutes profiteering on the GST increase.

It may publicise the names of errant businesses that seek to profiteer on the pretext of the GST hike.

Ms Low said the committee "will not add any regulatory burden on businesses".

"Its role is to strengthen transparency and enable free market competition to function as it should. As we safeguard consumers' interests, we will also continue to support our businesses," she added.

People who want to give feedback on unjustified price increases of essential products and services under the guise of the GST hike can do so via the official CAP website from April 1, 2022.

GSTSINGAPORE COMPANIESMINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY