COA Chairman on pricey dumplings: Let them eat eggplant
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-26 03:30 PM
KMT legislator Huang Chao-shun said that with the recent round of heavy rains and the approach of Dragon Boat Festival next week, agricultural prices are soaring in Taiwan. Huang told the Legislative Yuan Economic Committee that the most recent price index shows that the price of milled rice rose 6.5% last month while pork was up 14.8% and chicken, mushrooms and other foodstuffs also showed jumps in their market prices. Huang noted that last month the Council of Agriculture promised people they would get a small break for the Dragon Boat Festival, but now they are saying everyone must “be patient’. Huang asked the Chairman of the COA Chen Pao-chi, "People have to eat something, right?"

Chen’s response was noncommittal:"There are other things you can eat. People eat dumplings for Dragon Boat Festival, eggplant is also suitable for the occasion."

KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua pursued Huang’s line of questioning, asking how people could afford to eat dumplings with prices of agricultural products fluctuating so wildly.

Again Chen was indirect in replying, noting that the watermelon harvest in the Yunlin and Chiayi areas was way down due to heavy rains, meaning that the prices of melons was up, leaving him feeling "very helpless" about the situation.

Touching on prices for foods, Chen noted that food expenses must be viewed against the backdrop of income and benefits. He said that when the daily wage of electricians and plumbers was about NT$700 a day, the price of rice was NT$24 a kilo, and everyone thought rice was expensive. Now the daily wage for electricians and plumbers is about NT$2,200 a day and the price of rice stands at about NT$45 per kilo, and people still feel that rice is expensive. Chen said he believes that given the current state of supply and demand, prices of agricultural products are reasonable.

Huang took issue with Chen’s statement, noting that the prices of rice, pork, chicken, mushrooms and other ingredients that go into most dumplings are all on the rise, So what does the COA have to offer in the way of solutions? she asked.

Chen replied that one way to stabilize prices is to import more foodstuffs from abroad. Unfortunately the price of pork has been on the rise overseas as well, shooting up by 68 percent in some places, something that no one saw coming.

Chen suggested that if people cannot afford to eat dumplings they can eat more things like eggplant.

Huang was not pleased, saying, "For Dragon Boat Festival you tell us to eat something else, just like at Grave-sweeping Festival when you told us not to put peanut powder on our cakes. That’s too much!"

Chen emphasized that in addition to dumplings, there are still other vegetables available, "Dragon Boat Festival calls for dumplings, and for eggplant as well"

Somewhat taken aback, Huang asked, "You just told me not to eat dumplings, what should I eat?"

Chen backtracked and told her: "!t’s okay, you can eat dumplings."

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