By PETER ESILA
THE Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) and police yesterday arrested a Port Moresby shop manager accused of selling an item under price control for a higher profit than allowed.
ICCC commissioner and chief executive officer Paulus Ain said the shop priced a packet of Maggie 2 Minute Noodle, one of the declared items under price control, K1.10 on the shelves but charged K1.20 at the counter.
He said it was a nine per cent increase compared with the 5 per cent margin set out in the emergency declaration on certain basic goods and services.
“They will be arrested and charged under the Prices Regulations Act,” he said.
National Capital District police Met Supt (administration) Christopher Tamari said the manager: “Was released due to no availability of wording of charges. He will be formally charged (today).”
Ain said it was the first arrest after the National Gazette was issued last Tuesday by Treasurer Ian Lin-Stucky who warned shop operators not to increase prices of goods during the state of emergency (SOE). He said ICCC visited the shop three times during the SOE and warned the operators to adjust their price.
“The important thing is to comply with the government directive in this country,” Ain said.
“We have been giving notices to businesses throughout the country and we have been asking them to comply with the government directions to maintain the prices below the approved margin which is below five per cent of all the declared goods and services.
“And you have seen many media releases, announcements, that the ICCC has made over the many weeks and to date we have been following it up throughout the country in all the shops by having the assistance from our good friends from the police.
“We are bringing our good friends from the Waigani Police Station basically because we have attempted three times to talk to them that noodles was the product that we were monitoring among other products. We have talked to some of the officers in the shop to reduce the price.
“The price, according to our calculations and views, is beyond the margins that we are calculating. They will have their own views as well but today, according to the gazette notice, this is the price that the government wants all the shops to maintain – below five per cent.”
Ain said the shop would be charged under the Prices Regulations Act.
“This is the same message that we are sending to everyone, all the shops in the country, including tucker shops, retail outlets, wholesalers. There are other shops who are telling us that they are buying from retailers, adding on margins which are excessive. These are people that we will also arrest during this period of emergency,” Ain said.
By PETER ESILA