China airs 4 price manipulation cases

Updated: 2007-12-29 23:32

GUANGZHOU --  China's top economic planning agency publicized four price manipulation cases on Saturday and said it had uncovered more than 70 similar instances during 2007 as part of a nationwide price overhaul.

The announcement was in Guangzhou during a national price inspection work conference.

The cases included:

This past February, 104 kindergartens in Cangnan County, in eastern  Zhejiang Province, conspired to raise nursing and lunch fees by more than 30 percent. These kindergartens have been ordered to refund 3.45 million yuan (472,300 U.S. dollars) in fees and pay fines of 105,000 yuan.

The Chengdu cITY Medicine Chamber in southwestern Sichuan Province met four times between July and September to ask 19 member drug stores to sell three medicines at the maximum government retail price.

A bean product producer in Jingzhou City, in central Hubei Province,  conspired with local sales agents to increase the prices of four kinds of bean products by 20 percent last August.

The Shijiazhuang City Car Washing Association in northern Hebei Province in May ordered 189 car washing bays to raise service charges.

"To stabilize prices and regulate the market order, the government will stress price inspection in 2008, especially in the education, medical and real estate sectors," Bi Jingquan, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Saturday.

The consumer price index (CPI), a major gauge of inflation, surged by an 11-year-high of 6.9 percent in November and 4.6 percent in the first 11 months, primarily driven by surging food prices, which have become a key concern for the government and citizens.

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