Head of the National Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Task Force (NCTF), Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo says that allegations of price-gouging are being investigated. He made this revelation during a press conference today.
“There have been allegations of price-gouging and these are being investigated,” he said, while appealing to companies and agencies involved in the practice to desist.
Price- gouging refers to when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair and is considered exploitative. Allegations of price-gouging were first made immediately after Guyana confirmed its first COVID-19 case, which triggered panic shopping.
Some local retailers began increasing their prices – in some instances – by 100%, the Guyana Standard was able to confirm.
The Guyana Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (GC&CAC) said that it has no legal backings to stop it; noting that the laws do not cater for such an occurrence, and remedies for same. There are, however, provisions that address the issue of ‘price-fixing’ – an agreement between participants on the same side in a market to buy or sell a product, service, or commodity only at a fixed price, or maintain the market conditions such that the price is maintained at a given level by controlling supply and demand.
The PM was asked whether the government will be considering getting involved in the distribution of essential supplies to persons, to which he responded: “ I will personally try to get the consensus and the opinions of my colleagues because this is getting government into the procurement of essential services…I will put it to the NCTF to give an opinion as to where it intends to go in this regard.”
The NCTF chair said that the government has been working with pharmaceutical and medical institutions within the private sector “to see that they are given concessions to import these essential medical supplies that are related to the fight against COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, he said that the Food and Drug Department is monitoring the quality of products being imported in the fight against the diseases.