Friday, 4 April 2008

Don't Panic! (please)

According to the Government, there is no, repeat, no shortage of rice in Singapore. The Times ran a page-1 headline yesterday confirming the Government's assurance that there was plenty of rice; the picture editor found a shot of a rice warehouse to emphasise the point.

If you haven't been following, international rice prices have been rising which has prompted some major exporting countries, India, Vietnam and China, to restrict exports to avoid domestic inflation. Thailand has also now put some restrictions in place, causing price rises in Singapore. It's a staple food and people get very jittery about rice and cooking oil in particular (there were cooking oil disturbances in Malaysia last year).

Hence the Government assurances, but my local NTUC rice aisle was stripped entirely bare yesterday and stories suggest pockets of panic buying when someone buys an extra bag, and then someone else thinks they should, and so on.

I'm not fussed; I eat rice but I'm not about to start stock-piling 10Kg bags to save a few dollars over the next year. It's not like petrol for which there is no alternative if you own a car, anyway both rice and petrol degrade when stored. So some food prices will rise and life will carry on. This is one herd instinct I plan to ignore.