TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Legislator Lo Ming-Tsai (羅明才) questioned Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) over rising produce prices this morning in the Legislative Yuan Finance Committee.
When asked how long it had been since he ate a banana, Chu responded that he doesn’t eat bananas, UDN reported. The questioned was aimed at raising concern over the high prices of the fruit, which has nearly doubled in the last year.
Lo noted that banana prices have risen to the point that some people cannot afford to eat them. Chu responded that if the price is too high, people should not buy them. Lo retorted that the price of McDonald’s food has also risen, to which Chu said he also rarely eats at the fast food chain.
Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃委哲) later asked whether Chu considered himself a low-paid representative. Chu answered that he was and that all government representatives are the same. He claims that when he was an instructor at National Taiwan University he made six to seven times less than he did when working in Silicon Valley, and now he makes even less than that.
Legislator Lai Shyh-bao later asked how much impact the exit of hot money has had on inflation. Chu said that the depreciation of the New Taiwan Dollar has affected prices, but the effect on inflation is only 0.2 percent. He added that while imports will become expensive with long-term currency depreciation, it will be positive for Taiwanese exports and domestic products.
Produce prices have risen significantly since last autumn, following damage from typhoons Meranti and Megi. Banana growers suffered the heaviest losses, with 549 hectares damaged and economic losses totaling NT$22.85 million (US$737,478) from Typhoon Meranti. Total agricultural losses from both typhoons totaled close to NT$2 billion.
Prices of bananas had been rising since before the typhoons with the average retail price in April 2016 reaching NT$73 per kg. According to the Agricultural Trade Office, wholesale banana prices rose to NT$86 per kg on the first day of the year from NT$56.1 per kg a year earlier.