Competition commission uncovers price fixing

Businesses have gone overboard in pricing items desperately needed to keep the coronavirus at bay.

20 May 2020 | Local News

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



The Namibia Competition Commission says it has received complaints of massive increases on an array of products.

The prices of rice, ginger, oranges, naartjies, hand sanitisers and face masks have reportedly skyrocketed.

The commission conducted an analysis of price exploitation, with prices increasing from 14% to over 1 000% during April and May.

Forty percent of complaints related to increases on food and consumer items, while 13% related to health and hygiene products, it said.



Massive increases

A 143% price increase was noted for 1kg of rice, 267% for oranges and 263% for ginger, while an increase of 52% for 5kg of sugar, 39% for one litre of full cream milk, 27% for 10kg of sugar and 47% for Oshikandela was observed.

Even bigger price increases were noted regarding health and hygiene products, with the price for a box of face masks increasing 1 342%, while the price of single face masks increased by 567%.

“It can be observed that the price of face masks, hand sanitisers and immune-boosting products such as oranges, naartjies and raw ginger all saw huge price increases.



“Some of these products are unaffected by supply chain challenges and are therefore not subject to supply shortages,” the commission said.



Retailers to blame

Big retailers are accused of having adjusted the prices of their products, according to the commission.

These include big names like Spar, Pick n Pay, Woermann Brock and Shoprite-Checkers, it noted.

Thirty-six percent of the complaints it received were against Spar supermarkets, 21% against OK Foods Stores and 15% against pharmacies including Dischem, while 13% of the complaints were against Pick n Pay.

Clicks, Shoprite-Checkers and Woermann Brock accounted for 5% of the complaints.



Potential investigation

The commission said it would assess the allegations, but cautioned that complaints received did not imply that the retailers were guilty of price fixing.

“The commission will in due time make a decision to proceed with formal investigations against those implicated with due regard to the procedures set out in the Competition Act and the envisaged price directives.”

Complaints regarding essential products will be afforded priority, it added.

The commission advised members of the public to continue filing their complaints via email at [email protected] or via WhatsApp or text to 081 377 4800.

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