NEWS

43 Traders Face Price Hike Probe

Notices have been issued to 43 trad­ers over price complaints in the Farms-CARE and Homes-CARE initiatives. Fijian Competition and Consumer Com­mission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham said the notices
30 May 2018 10:48
43 Traders Face Price Hike Probe

Notices have been issued to 43 trad­ers over price complaints in the Farms-CARE and Homes-CARE initiatives.

Fijian Competition and Consumer Com­mission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham said the notices queried why there were price variations.

Mr Abraham said traders had been giv­en three to five days to provide the infor­mation to the FCCC.

“Once the required information is re­ceived from the traders/vendors, a proper analysis will be done in order to ascertain whether the complaints received against them on abuse of the initiatives are cor­rect,” he said.

“It has come to light that some traders are taking advantage of the initiatives by hiking prices of items to be sold under the initiative.

“Further, some traders seem to be ac­cepting payments and asking for the items to be delivered at a later date.

“Those who will be found to be in breach of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010) will be taken to task.

“If we find that the prices were artifi­cially increased, then we will take the necessary steps under the law.

“We have issued notices to 43 traders and more traders are being identified who may also be issued notices. One thing that we have been able to establish is that there have been variations in prices and by variations I mean in some prices we have seen an upward trend prior to the Farms- CARE and Homes-CARE initiative,”

Mr Abraham said.

He said people had been coming forward and providing information.

He appealed to the members of the public to come forward and provide FCCC with instances where they had noted price dis­parities and provide them with information where they felt that something had gone wrong or felt suspicious about anything.

Mr Abraham said one example was that one person came forward in the Western Divi­sion and gave them a statement where they went to a particular store to purchase an item. He said they bought a different item, but something else was on the receipt. What­ever they had purchased was not supposed to be on the list of things they were supposed to buy.

Today, a team from FCCC and the Consumer Council of Fiji will mobilise its team to go to the Western Division to carry out further investigations from preliminary issues they have received.

“If what we suspect gets confirmed by the investigations proper, then we expect to lay chargers by late this week or early next week to certain traders,” Mr Abraham said.

Meanwhile the Council have so far received 25 complaints.

The Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said they were working with FCCC to analyse these complaints and to see how they could provide solutions to the consumers.

Ms Kumar said complaints were generally to do with price hikes.

She said consumers had complained that fertiliser and mill mix prices had gone up. They were also complaining that prices of white goods had increased as well.

“So consumers are asking why they have to pay a higher price?” she said.

“One of the companies has come up with its own list and when consumers wanted to buy things out of that list, they were stopped, they were told that they cannot buy anything outside the list.

“So we are questioning who created the list, why the list was there and why consumers cannot have a free choice of deciding what they want to buy.”

Ms Kumar said they had sought clarifica­tion from the company.

She also commented on the abuse of the ini­tiative.

Fines:

People providing false information for the initiatives will be fined up to $20,000.

For traders, the spot fines are up to $50,000. But if the particular trader is charged and taken to court then the maximum penalty is up to $250,000 or 10 years imprisonment or both.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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