The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned manufacturers of hygiene products, especially hand sanitisers and masks, not to engage in price gouging and arbitrary increase of products.
Describing such actions as amounting to taking advantage of the Nigerian consumers at these trying times, the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Babatunde Irukera, added that, in spite of the agency’s appeal on February 28, 2020, against arbitrary and unreasonable, unconscionable, excessive and irrational pricing of critical hygiene products (price gouging), some sellers of those products had failed to heed the call of the agency.
According to him, while some had exercised circumspection, and continued to ensure supply and pricing within fair and acceptable ranges, some suppliers and retailers, he noted, had continued to take undue advantage of citizens by selling such products at very exorbitant prices.
“The Commission’s periodic monitoring and reports still show that some suppliers and retailers continue to take undue and opportunistic advantage of citizens by selling these products at inexplicably high and excessive prices; and making unsupported claims about the efficacy of certain medications and or hygiene products,” he stated.
The FCCPC’s boss however expressed the Commission’s determination to ensuring that suppliers and retailers do not manipulate supply to distort the market or promote high prices or engage in excessive pricing of relevant products.
“The Commission intends to enforce the law with respect to fair competition and consumer protection. We will deploy all available statutory tools to prevent profiteering and exploitation in this inauspicious season.
“The Commission urges suppliers, retailers, online shopping platforms, as well as individuals who buy to resell not to charge unreasonable or inflated prices. Violators will be criminally prosecuted where the evidence sufficiently supports same,” he stated.
Irukera also charged consumers not to engage in panic-buying, since such encourages and promotes gouging and anxiety.
He described the recent purchases of chloroquine in the country, as raising questions of fairness, both by suppliers/retailers, and consumers, who were insistent on purchasing all available inventory, even when personal needs were inconsistent with the available inventory.
Irukera also advised consumers to avoid large gatherings, including markets/stores to make needless or non-essential purchases, and to practice the strongest discipline in staying at home and enforcing social distancing measures.
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