By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Price Commission has relaunched its 24-hour hotline in an effort to combat serious breaches of the Price Control Act and announced its partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency to ensure consumers aren’t taken advantage of this hurricane season.
At a press conference held at the Department of Labour yesterday, Price Commission chairman Daniel Sumner said the agency intends to update the public about ongoing efforts to protect consumers. He said: “Currently the Price Commission falls under the carriage of the Ministry of Labour and has been given the mandate to serve and protect consumers from unfair prices charged by unscrupulous merchants. I have received numerous complaints from various consumers about a number of merchants committing alleged price infractions on the bread basket list of food items.
“These cases are considered to be serious breaches of the Price Control Act and the Price Commission is actively pursuing these matters in conjunction with the relevant law enforcement authorities and we wish to put merchants on notice that those found guilty will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.”
The chairman highlighted a few areas the commission will be closely monitoring and put merchants on notice. “We wish to assure the public that we here at the commission will be policing and watching out for any price gouging. The price commission is aware that over the years, the Bahamian public has become overwhelmed by the practice of price gouging by a small pocket of dishonest merchants,” Mr Sumner said.
“Price gouging has a penalty of a fine not exceeding $5,000 per item. Therefore, we are putting merchants on notice to ensure they have the correct prices on all food items that are available for sale to the public in their stores. Additionally, the Price Commission wishes to advise the public that it will continue to monitor and ensure the availability, quality and standards of breadbasket items.”
He added: “Another concern of the Price Commission is hoarding. The fine for hoarding (is) $2,500 per item...we are warning these food stores that the Price Commission will not stand by and allow the Bahamian people to be taken advantage of.”