HCM City has beefed up its surveillance of the consumer goods market ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year holiday), the year's busiest season, when price hikes occur and counterfeit products flood the market.

The city's Department of Industry and Trade has set up four inspection teams that are examining the quantity of goods and monitoring shops that sell goods under the city's price-stabilisation programme.

The department is also checking whether prices are correctly registered and listed, according to Le Ngoc Dao, the department's deputy director.

Aside from forming inspection teams, the department has been working with the market-watch agency, the Ministry of Finance's price inspectorate and district inspection teams to oversee the market.

For the last several months prior to and including the Lunar New Year holiday, the city always see an influx of illegally transported goods, as well as counterfeit and low-quality products, according to Dang Van Duc, head of the market-watch agency under the city's Department of Industry and Trade.

The department has sent more inspectors to observe inter-provincial illegal traffickers and traders so they could take timely and proper measures to fight against such activities, Duc said.

The HCM City People's Committee has also asked relevant bodies to improve their surveillance and inspection of the market ahead of and after the Tet holiday, which begins in late January.

The authorised bodies, under the city's guidance, will supervise consumer demand and supply of essential goods in an aim to prevent price hikes as well as speculation, which could lead to higher prices and market disorder.

The city has also requested stronger cooperation among relevant bodies in the fight against trade fraud and sale of fake goods. It has also asked them to impose strict penalties on violators.

Illegal traders and shop owners will have their goods seized and their business licenses withdrawn. Violators will also be sued on criminal charges, if applicable.

Price stabilisation on essential goods for Tet began in June.

The programme has been going well amid high inflation and increasing prices of input materials, according to the HCM City People's Committee.

Providers of goods have committed to ensure an adequate supply for the market, especially for Tet.

The reserve of Tet goods under the programme accounts for 30-40 percent of the market's demand, 20 percent higher than the amount for last year's holiday season, according to Dao.

The total investment for this year's price-stabilisation programme is 412 billion VND (19.6 million USD), 89 percent of which has been spent on goods reserved for Tet.

This year, twice as many essential goods compared to last year have been reserved. They include poultry meat, sugar, cooking oil, egg and processed foods.

The city's biggest market chain, Co.op Mart, has stocked 24,000 tonnes of essential goods to make sure it meets consumer demand during the period leading to Tet.

The number of buyers during this time is expected to be at least three times higher than on non-holiday days.

Maximart and BigC, the other two leading retailers, have also increased the quantity of goods for Tet by at least 30 percent compared to the corresponding time last year.

Around 95 percent of Tet reserves are Vietnamese-made products, according to the Department of Industry and Trade.

The department expects the price of goods for Tet to be about 10 percent higher than normal./.