The Fair Trading Commission says it will closely monitor recent significant increases in the prices of basic foodstuffs, including wheat flour, to determine whether they are the result of anti-competitive practices.
In a press release issued yesterday, the commission said it was fully aware of the reported combination of supply and demand conditions, both external and internal, which resulted in the worrying price increases.
Nevertheless, the commission assures the public that, in accordance with the Fair Trading Act, it remains fully committed to monitoring recent price increases closely to determine whether the price increase is in any way the result of anti-competitive.
“These practices may include, but (are) not limited to illegal price fixing, collusion among suppliers and abuse of monopoly power, each of which may harm the distribution and retail sale of products, including that of flour,” the statement said.
Moreover, it is in this context that the commission is organizing a virtual meeting with stakeholders from the shipping industry and related activities, which will take place on July 28.
At this meeting, the commission intends to examine in more detail the specific causes of the rising prices and to determine whether changes can be made to business operations in order to provide relief to consumers in these worrying times and unusual.
The commission also reminds consumers that while rising flour prices are a cause for concern, consumers have the power to change their lifestyle and choose to eat healthier and switch to alternative local products, in wherever possible.
At the post-Cabinet press conference two Thursdays ago, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon described as unacceptable the price hikes some companies had been taking since the announcement of the increased cost of flour.
She said that, already, the Ministry’s Consumer Division has seen very large discrepancies in the increase in the price of flour.
“We are already noticing that. I can tell you who they are, but I’m not ready to name and shame just yet. But there are those who hold stocks of the item, which they bought at a certain price, and they have already increased,” the minister lamented.
“And I have the names, but let’s give them a few days and we can talk about it,” she added.
Gopee-Scoon called on traders and supermarkets to do their part and be reasonable, and “not to act unreasonably”.