Web Comments

More explanations needed on higher prices

By Xin Zhiming (Chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-11 15:45
Large Medium Small

The possibility is very high that you will find that the prices of nearly everything are picking up nowadays. Why? The traditional Spring Festival is coming.

But it is not the sole reason. Since November, the country's consumer inflation has surged into the positive territory, and recent data shows the trend may have become entrenched. What's more, many people feel price rises are even higher than the data show.

Related readings:
More explanations needed on higher prices China's January inflation eases to 1.5%
More explanations needed on higher prices China's new loans in Jan falls 14.2% to 1.39 trln yuan
More explanations needed on higher prices China's Jan CPI up 1.5%, PPI up 4.3%
More explanations needed on higher prices 
China's housing prices up 9.5% in Jan

There has been a long-standing gap between people's impressions and the official data. The authorities need to do something to bridge that gap.

The national statistics bureau said that consumer inflation rose by 1.5 percent year-on-year in January, down from 1.9 percent for December. But month-on-month numbers continue at an upward pace, rising 0.6 percent.

The "slight" change doesn't mean real price changes are small, too. Prices of food items are increasing pretty fast with the approach of the Spring Festival, which usually brings a spike in consumption.

Not only food prices go up. So do house prices. The bureau announced that its survey shows house prices in 70 major cities rose by 9.5 percent on average in January year-on-year, compared with 7.8 percent in December.

Many ordinary people complained that the prices of everything are rising, except for the cost of labor.

The national statistics bureau chief has explained that while the public may focus on price changes around them, the bureau conducts surveys in almost all corners of the country, thus leading to a discrepancy between individual impressions and what is indicated by the official data.

Indeed, it could be a factor. But some data are really odd, and "public misunderstanding" is not able to explain it away. For example, Beijing's new home prices, according to the bureau, rose by 16 percent in January year-on-year. If you ask Beijing residents, few would agree that price changes have been so trivial. They might tell you that prices increased by 50 percent, if not doubled, compared with a year ago.

Home prices hit a trough early last year, before resuming strong growth momentum in the second half. The low base makes the 16 percent growth figure provided by the bureau more unusual.

The authorities can cite technical factors to explain away the gap, but they must do more if they want to dispel public doubt.

Above all, authorities can, for example, make it transparent how the bureau has conducted surveys to invite public supervision and promote public understanding.