It is wrong for the resellers to try to take advantage of the Wuhan virus situation to profiteer, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday at a press conference in which he addressed reports of retailers selling masks at inflated prices.

“We will not allow this to happen,” he stressed.

Mr Chan lauded platform like Carousell and Qoo10 who have threatened to suspend such profiteers on their respective platforms.

Mr Chan added that the Price Controller will issue warning letters to retailers and e-commerce platforms like Deen Express who are suspected of profiteering. They will be required to provide details on “what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing”.

Deen Express was asked to explain the “basis of their selling prices for the sale of masks, including their cost price and profit margins”, said MTI in a statement yesterday.

Apart from that, MTI is also issuing letters to e-commerce platforms Lazada, Carousell, and Qoo10 to request information of errant sellers on their platform.

“We want to reassure Singaporeans that we do not stand for such behaviour in Singapore and we also urge Singaporeans not to support or give in to such profiteers,” said Mr Chan, adding that the government has the means to provide the necessary supplies to the country without people being subject to such profiteers.

“We take it very seriously,” he emphasised.

Companies that fail to respond to MTI’s letters could face a fine of up to S$10,000 for the first offence and up to S$20,000 for subsequent offences.

“Profiteering is highly irresponsible and damaging in these uncertain times,” MTI said in its statement.

“We urge all retailers to practise corporate social responsibility and not take advantage of the increased demand to raise prices unreasonably.”

“We will work closely with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to monitor the situation and investigate any unfair and anti-competitive practices,” the ministry added.

There have been islandwide reports of overwhelming demand for masks amid concerns about the Wuhan virus which has made its way from China into Singapore. Long queues and low stocks have the people worried.

Though, the government has continued to reassure the public there country does have enough supplies for everyone in the country.

As an added measure, it was also announced yesterday that every household in Singapore will receive four surgical masks for free from the government to ensure that people have access to them should they need it. That’s a total of 5.3 million masks to be distributed starting 1 February.

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