Coronavirus : FCCPC warns against face masks’ price hike

By Felix Khanoba

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned suppliers and sellers of basic safety and protective apparel such as face masks and latex gloves against increase in price of the products.

The Commission, which said such unwholesome trade practices violates both moral codes and extant law, vowed to ensure that individuals who are unduly limiting supply of the products as a result of reported case of Coronavirus are made to face the full wrath of the law.

A statement made available to The AUTHORITY in Abuja on Saturday and signed by the Director General of FCCPC, Barr. Babatunde Irukera, said the Commission would not tolerate exploitation of consumers under any guise.

The statement read: “It has come to the attention of FCCPC that certain suppliers and retailers are taking undue advantage of citizens and engaging in unconscionable trade practices with respect to basic safety and protective apparel such as face masks and latex gloves, as well as personal hygiene products like sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes, because these products are relevant and necessary in preventing infection or spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

“This unusual and inordinate practice of unreasonably increasing the price of these products in an indiscriminate manner, on account of the national public health concern (Coronavirus) violates both moral codes and extant law. Abusing citizens’ sensitivity, apprehension, anxiety and vulnerability, especially during emergencies that could adversely affect national security is a violation of law. Specifically, S. 17(s) of the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) prohibits “obnoxious trade practices”, or the “unscrupulous exploitation of consumers”.

“The Commission’s surveillance efforts have revealed that some otherwise reputable pharmacies and department stores are engaging in price gouging and manipulating supplies in a manner that distorts the market, or temporarily restricts availability in order to unreasonably/unfairly increase prices.

“Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA.”

FCCPC called on consumers to be vigilant, and report unreasonable or arbitrary exploitative price increase or trade practices to the Commission.

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