Sunday, October 26, 2014   




No sparing kids the two-can rule

Beatrice Siu

Monday, February 04, 2013

Children will not be exempt from the two-can limit per person - imposed as part of measures to curb parallel trade in baby milk formula - amid fears they may be used as couriers.

That is according to food and health chief Ko Wing-man, who voiced hope that the cans ordered by at least 2,300 parents via a government hotline would be delivered before the Lunar New Year.

From midnight until 5pm yesterday, the special 3142-2288 hotline received 411 calls, of which 28 were referred to milk suppliers for follow-up action.

This brings calls received since the hotline was set up on Friday to 4,278, with 2,336 referred to suppliers to fill orders.

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The hotline and the two-can restriction under the Import and Export Regulations are among 10 measures announced to stabilize baby formula supplies and crack down on parallel traders.

"We will continue to closely monitor the overall supply and functioning of retail chains," Ko said. "Hopefully, [we] can ensure that all these families receive the formula they need before the Lunar New Year."

Sheung Shui East Rail MTR station yesterday saw shorter queues at dispensaries and parents said they found it easier than before to buy milk powder.

But 30 members of the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group staged protests at Sheung Shui, Tai Po Market and Fan Ling stations, saying the problem may return after the holiday.

The government will amend the Import and Export (General) Regulations to limit the number of baby formula to two cans per person at most for self-use.

Ko said the policy strikes a balance. "If we had cut down to zero [cans], it would be inconvenient for local residents. So we think the two-can limit has struck an appropriate balance," he said.

However, Ko rejected calls to ease the restriction in the case of children, saying parallel traders of infant formula "may pull children into the whirlpool."

He said: "We worry that traders may use them to bring baby formula."

Executive councillor and New People's Party legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said milk may still be labeled a "reserve commodity" if local suppliers do not hold enough stock or manipulate prices.


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