Archive for the ‘Ministry of Procurement and Food Policy’ Category

DPRK exercising stricter enforcement of official prices

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

At the beginning of last month, the North Korean authorities ordered local commercial management offices to strengthen oversight to ensure that products were being sold at official state prices, according to a source from Shinuiju on February 6th.

Meeting with Daily NK on a visit to Dandong, China, the source explained, “Friction has started up again between market managers and traders because of orders at the start of the year to make sure that everything is sold at the state-designated price. They do this every year, but this year they are confiscating products and transferring them for sale in state stores.”

Price-related orders are issued annually in North Korea, where the authorities are still reluctant to countenance market price autonomy despite fifteen years of ad hoc marketization. As such, the Ministry of Procurement and Food Policy sets the prices of key goods and posts them at the entrance to markets. These prices are approximately uniform across the country.

Only ‘regional’ items being treated differently; prices for these items are set by pricing bureaus established under provincial People’s Committees. Most obviously, the state price of seafood is cheaper in coastal areas than in inland parts of the country.

However, real price differentials make selling at these state prices untenable; for example, the market price of a kilo of rice in Shinuiju is currently hovering around 3,200 won, while that for corn is 2,200 won, yet the state prices are 1,600 won and 690 won respectively. Therefore, traders traditionally simply pretend to sell at state prices when inspectors turn up, before resuming trade at market prices once they have left.

But the problem this year is that enforcement is stricter than usual, with illegally priced products being confiscated, transferred directly to state stores and sold at state prices. According to the source, “In the past state prices were only symbolic and inspectors didn’t enforce them. Even if they confiscated something you could pay them a little and get it back. But now they are just selling those products directly at state prices, so a lot of people who have ignored the crackdowns are ending up in a real fix.”

Not only that. “People who are caught like this are banned from trading from a stall for a month,” the source added. “Traders are reacting very carefully now as a result.”

However, history has taught traders that the crackdown is unlikely to last too long, and anticipate a return to less strict oversight in due course.

Read the full story here:
Annual Market Crackdown Ensnaring the Careless
Daily NK
Park Jun Hyeong and Jeong Jae Sung


DPRK government delivering rice to high risk areas

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Daily NK
Jung Kwon Ho

In late January, Kim Jong Il held a meeting of his highest officials, including Jang Sung Taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party, aiming to find ways to alleviate the negative side effects of November’s currency redenomination. In the meeting, the group apparently agreed to release emergency supplies of rice to those on the brink of starvation.

According to a Daily NK source, “Following the meeting, which he chaired, Kim Jong Il handed down a handwritten decree to the chief secretaries of all provinces on January 20 in which it was stated, ‘Preventing anyone from starving to death is your obligation.’”

Chief Secretaries of Provincial Committees of the Party, the recipients of the decree, handed on the threat to their subordinates, warning provincial cadres, “You will resign if anyone starves to death, because this was a direct instruction from the General.”

In the decree, the three most vulnerable provinces were named as Yangkang, South Hamkyung, and Kangwon Provinces, so the officials governing those provinces are understandably nervous. They are the provinces where most casualties occurred during the March of Tribulation, and they remain the most food insecure.

Under the decree, the Ministry of Procurement and Food Policy makes daily deliveries of 5kg of relief rice to each people’s unit and 5-15kg to each factory and enterprise. Chairpersons of people’s units and managers of factories are required to observe the circumstances of the people under their control and provide those in the greatest danger of starvation with relief rice first.

In late January, quite a number of households were reportedly facing starvation due to the aftermath of the currency redenomination; notably sky high prices coupled to strict market regulations. However, there have been no reports of starvation since relief rice deliveries began on February 1.

Alongside the chairpersons of People’s Units, cadres working for local government offices are required to cross-check whether or not starvation is occurring. In theory, they are reprimanded if they do not report the situation truthfully.

Upon hearing the news, a defector in Seoul commented, “It seems that the people will not lie still and suffer that dire situation. Kim Jong Il may have done this because he senses a crisis situation this time.”