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PNG ICCC Takes Drastic Action on Price Gouging by Shops and Service Providers

Papua New Guinea's consumer watchdog- the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC), has taken a drastic step in ensuring shops do not take advantage of the nationwide lock-down in light of Covid-19, to increase prices of goods and services.

ICCC Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Paulus Ain said the Commission has moved to declare, through a gazette approved by the Treasury Minister Ian Ling-Stucky, certain goods that a considered to be essential for consumers at this time of lock-down.

“After being aware of a number of complaints and the announcement by the prime minister to the shutdown period the ICCC has taken steps to declare in consultation with the minister to gazette certain goods and services, and the minister has effectively gazetted this pursuant to section 10 of the Price Regulations Act,” he said.

The goods that were declared are as listed,

• Rice (all brands);
• Flour (all brands);
• Sugar (all brands);
• Baby Formula (all brands);
• Laundry Bar Soap( Klina, Waswas and all other similar brands);
• Fuel (those not price controlled such as liquefied petroleum gas, zoom and aviation fuel);
• Household Battery (all brands);
• Matches (all brands);
• Hand Sanitizer;
• Disposable Surgical Masks;
• Latex Gloves;
• Bottled Water;
• Cooking Oil (all brands);
• Tinned Fish (all brands);
• Tinned Meat (all brands);
• Noodles (Maggie 2 Minutes-Noodles and Indomie brands);
• Biscuits (snax, Wopa, Em Nau, Totti, Beef Cracker);
• Tea Bags (all brands);
• Household Bleach (all brands);
• Toilet roll/tissue (all brands); and
• Air Fares (domestic and international)

The ICCC will be working with police to ensure that shops comply with it or penalties will be imposed on the ones that do not comply.

“Those shops that are found non-compliant, we will prosecute them with the assistance of police, they will be arrested and we will have them behind bars.”

Ain said if prosecuted summarily, there would be a fine of up to K50, 000 and up to six months in prison. If there is a formal prosecution, there can be a fine up to K100, 000 and up to two years in prison. Summary Prosecution will be based on decisions by the ICCC working with the controller of the State of Emergency.

“They must not take advantage of the current situation by inflating prices unnecessarily.”

“This is our utmost appeal to the business community,” he added.

Meanwhile, for the parts of the country where ICCC is not present, the police will be taking up the role of inspecting shops to ensure there is compliance. That is the arrangement now in place between the ICCC and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC).

However, this measure which came into effect today, is only for this lock-down period of 14 days or further if extended.

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