By: Poelano Malema
The Gauteng Department of Economic Development has warned suppliers not to take advantage of the state the country currently finds itself in.
It has issued a stern warning to those offering essential goods such as basic food, emergency products and services, medical and hygiene supplies, as well as emergency clean-up products and services, not to inflate prices.
“It is unreasonable and unfair for suppliers of goods to take advantage of this state of national disaster by unfairly increasing the prices of goods without any economic justification to do so,” the department said in a statement.
The department says this comes after reports of possible food shortages had emerged in Gauteng following recent public unrest.
The government says it is doing this to “protect consumers against unfair, unreasonable and unjust pricing”.
“Section 48 states that a supplier must not offer to supply, supply or enter into an agreement to supply goods and services at a price that is unfair or unconscionable.
“Unfair, unreasonable or unjust pricing (price gouging) is when a supplier increases the prices of goods or services that do not correspond to or not equivalent to the increase of providing that service or good,” says The Chief Director: Consumer Affairs and Business Compliance, Adv. Fati Manamela.
The department says “a supplier or person contravening these Regulations could be fined up to R1 million”.
Not only that, but the supplier could be fined up to 10% of a firm’s annual turnover, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Reporting suppliers that charge unreasonable prices
“The Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs will continue with its efforts of implementing the provisions of the CPA by reducing and ameliorating any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumers,” says Manamela.
The suppliers should be reported to the Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs on the email address: [email protected] for processing and referral to the Competition Commission and the National Consumer Commission.
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