By PETER ESILA
SHOPS inflating the prices of certain items face a fine of up to K100,000 or a prison term of up to two years, says the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC).
According to commissioner and chief executive officer Paulus Ain:
- if prosecuted summarily, there can be a fine of up to K50,000 or up to six months in prison;
- if there is a formal prosecution, there can be a fine of up to K100,000 and up to two years in prison.
He warned shops not to take advantage of the current State of Emergency situation by increasing the prices of goods.
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey released an emergency declaration of certain goods and services in accordance with Section 10 of the Prices Regulations Act. The goods are listed in the National Gazette 191 of March 24.
The ICCC is working with Police Commissioner David Manning, who is also the State of Emergency controller, to enforce price control regulations.
“Police stations around the country have been informed that any shop owner or person who fails to comply with the emergency order is guilty of an offence,” Ain said.
“Summary prosecution will be based on decisions by the ICCC working with the controller.
“The ICCC advises consumers to report any shops or businesses who have increased prices and practising price gouging on certain goods and services which the ICCC has declared essential goods. Their prices should not be inflated in any way.
“Price gouging is an unfair market practice which is not in the interest of consumers.”
He advised shops to ration goods and services listed in the notice.
“Shop owners have a moral responsibility towards their consumers during the State of Emergency,” he said.
Consumers can call the toll free number 180 3333 and use the ICCC Facebook page to register complaints.
“The ICCC will not tolerate anyone who tries to exploit this emergency. Police will immediately prosecute those who do not comply hence we ask everyone to be responsible.”
City Pharmacy Limited managing director Mahesh Patel earlier condemned those involved in price gouging.
“It must be avoided,” he said.
National Capital District Met Supt Perou N’Dranou warned shop owners that police would be supporting the ICCC.
“We will not hesitate to enforce the law on behalf of the ICCC on those who intend to (increase) the price of goods they are selling to the public.”