The Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) has warned businesses not to take advantage of consumers by price gouging during the coronavirus outbreak. NaCC CEO Vitalis Ndalikokule has urged the general public to be vigilant and file complaints regarding price gouging related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“NaCC through complaints and the general public, learned that some retailers of healthcare and hygiene products, including distributors, pharmacies and supermarkets, have artificially hiked prices for these essential products in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak,” Ndalikokule said yesterday. He said the commission’s analysis reveals that there have been significant price increases on masks, hand sanitisers and immune boosters.
“Price increases range between N$104 to N$200 at various pharmacies for immune boosters. For hand sanitisers, the analysis established that on average a hand sanitiser of 100ml, before Covid-19 outbreak, would cost a consumer around N$20,” he said. However, he said, the price has since increased to a minimum N$44 at most pharmacies, subject to the brand and demand at a point in time.
In some instances, he said, sanitisers of a similar size are retailing for as much as N$75.
With regards to masks (N95 and 3ply), the commission discovered that before the outbreak, 3-ply masks would retail for around N$10 and N$100 for the N95 masks. He said today, however, retailers are selling the masks at N$75 (3-ply) and N$230 (N95). Ndalikokule said the competition act, prohibits acts of excessive pricing and collusive behaviour through price-fixing by retailers and suppliers.
“Penalties for such conduct are severe and may attract a fine of 10% of turnover. All retailers of these essential products are therefore warned against exploiting consumers through artificially inflated prices,” he said.
He further urges consumers to, during this period of national crisis, immediately report to the commission any unusual increase in prices by suppliers and retailers. He said in an effort to protect consumers from the continued price exploitation, the commission has under its enforcement, exemptions and cartels division set up a dedicated team to ensure prioritisation of complaints on all essential healthcare and hygiene products during this critical time.
He also said the commission has been in contact with the ministry of industrialisation and trade to provide consumers with the quickest and most effective protection against continued price exploitation.
“We are further in discussion with government to ensure that competition law enforcement does not impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services to the citizenry,” he said.
2020-03-25 07:40:43 | 3 months ago