Price-gouging resolution passed in House
ON WEDNESDAY, the House of Parliament passed a resolution to combat price-gouging, brought by State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green.
The minister says the new resolution will regulate the sale of goods during the period of a Declaration of a Disaster Area and shall come into force on March 31.
“Prices of these items would have already entailed a profit margin and as such, for the Disaster Area Order and time period, we are saying that the retailers have to maintain those prices,” the minister stated in his presentation.
The Trade (Sale of Goods During Period of Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, 2020 details that no person whose business includes the retail sale of goods shall sell any necessary goods to another person at a price higher than the price charged immediately before the coming into force of the Disaster Risk Management (Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, 2020.
Under the order, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) has been authorised to demand on behalf of the minister, books, accounts or other documents relating to the business to investigate claims of price-gouging.
“We meticulously reviewed our current legislative framework to identify the most effective approach to price-gouging and the enforcement of penalties in a timely manner. This isn’t an issue that can be delayed, as people are experiencing it now and we can’t allow that,” he said.
Price-gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair, and is considered exploitative in all the circumstances.
“I am making another call for consumers to make a report to the CAC where they are experiencing unreasonable increase in the price of goods. The CAC also has an pap in the Play Store where complaints can be made as well. Let’s work together to protect each other as we tackle this COVID-19 crisis,” he asserted.
The offender under the new order can be held criminally liable to a fine not exceeding $2 million or to a term of imprisonment, with or without hard labour, not exceeding two years.