Tuesday , January 18 2022

COVID-19: FCCPC Frowns at Price Gouging, Arbitrary Increase in Sanitizers, Masks

The Federal  Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has frowned at the price gouging, arbitrary increases in sanitizers, masks and latex gloves by suppliers and retailers of the products over COVID -19.

A statement signed b the Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Babatunde Irukera in Abuja on Saturday described the practice as a violated of both moral codes and extant laws.

Irukera explained that suppliers and retailers were exploiting the national public health concern caused by the coronavirus (COVID -19) outbreak to make gains.

The statements reads thus;

“It has come to the attention of The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) that certain suppliers and retailers are taking undue advantage of citizens and engaging in unconscionable trade practices with respect to basic safety and protective apparel such as face masks and latex gloves, as well as personal hygiene products like sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes, because these products are relevant and necessary in preventing infection or spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

“This unusual and inordinate practice of unreasonably increasing the price of these products in an indiscriminate manner, on account of the national public health concern (Coronavirus) violates both moral codes and extant law. Abusing citizens’ sensitivity, apprehension, anxiety and vulnerability, especially during emergencies that could adversely affect national security is a violation of law.  Specifically,S. 17(s) of the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) prohibits “obnoxious trade practices”, or the “unscrupulous exploitation of consumers”.

“The Commission’s surveillance efforts have revealed that some otherwise reputable pharmacies and department stores are engaging in price gouging and manipulating supplies in a manner that distorts the market, or temporarily restricts availability in order to unreasonably/unfairly increase prices.  Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA.

“Any exercise or exploitation of undue pressure in selling or the sale of goods or services, or price manipulation between displayed, and selling price are also serious violations of the FCCPA underSections 115(3) and 124(1). Taking advantage of the possibility of infection by a dangerous communicable disease to control supply, or unilaterally increase prices is predatory as it preys on the desperation of citizens.

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“Considering the circumstances and the vital national interest/security this illegal conduct undermines, the Commission intends to strongly enforce the full letter of the law, including the fullest extent of penalties associated with this conduct.  The FCCPC encourages consumers to be vigilant, and report such unreasonable or arbitrary exploitative price increase or trade practices to the Commission by telephone on 08056002020, or 08056003030, or by email atcontact@fccpc.gov.ng.

“Meanwhile, the Commission is in continuing communication with the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control NCDC) and understands that Nigeria’s readiness to address this discovery of COVID-19 and prevent wide-spread infection is sufficient and effective.  Consumers should however proceed in abundance of caution and follow all respiratory and hand-washing hygiene practices that have been published by NCDC, W.H.O, U.S. CDC, LASG, FCCPC and other official and authoritative sources. Where described symptoms or adverse events are observed in self or others, please follow the instructions provided and notify the authorities and the telephone numbers also provided in the published materials previously identified”, Irukera said.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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