China's top economic planning agency has urged local pricing authorities in quake zones and other places of the country to strengthen monitoring on relief materials prices to better serve reconstruction in disaster areas.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Friday urged authorities in Sichuan, Chongqing, Gansu and Shaanxi, which were affected by May 12 8.0 magnitude earthquake, to stabilize prices of building materials by limiting profit margins or issuing guideline prices in the run-up to the country's biggest post-quake reconstruction project since 1976. Such intervention measures will cover tents and construction materials including steel, cement, glass and timber.
The agency also banned local authorities from raising prices of commodities, including electricity, oil and gas, which were set by the government, said a NDRC spokesman, who declined to give his name.
Temporary price intervention has been carried out in quake zone, covering food, medicines, and transport since the 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province last week, killing at least 51,151 nationwide as of 10 a.m. Thursday.
The spokesman said any trader who jacked up prices in the quake region would be fined or banned from doing business according to the national Price Law.
The Price Law stipulates that the illegal earnings of the traders can be confiscated and they can face fines of up to five times the illegal earning, while those who make no sales can be fined from 20,000 yuan (2,857.1 U.S. dollars) to 400,000 yuan, or face closure.
(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2008)