Competition Commission warns retailers against increasing the prices of products which are considered a necessary measure against COVID-19
The Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC), through complaints from the general public has learned that some retailers of healthcare and hygiene products, have artificially hiked prices for these essential products in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
NaCC in a statement said that the Competition Act No. 2 of 2003, prohibits acts of excessive pricing and collusive behaviour through price-fixing by retailers and suppliers, therefore, penalties for such conduct are severe and may attract a fine of 10% of turnover.
“All retailers of these essential products are therefore warned against exploiting consumers through artificially inflated prices and we urge consumers to immediately report to the Commission any unusual increase in prices by suppliers and retailers,” they added.
The Commission said it has therefore under its Enforcement, Exemptions & Cartels Division set up a dedicated team to ensure prioritisation of complaints on all essential healthcare and hygiene products during this critical time, in an effort to protect consumers from the continued price exploitation.
Furthermore the Commission has been in contact with the Ministry of Industrialization and Trade and will be working with them closely to provide consumers with the quickest and most effective protection against continued price exploitation.
“We are in further discussions with the government to ensure that competition law enforcement does not impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services to the citizenry,” they said.
The NaCC assessed prices of immune boosters, masks and hand sanitizers, which are considered a necessary measure against the COVID-19 outbreak and are currently in high demand. The assessment revealed that there have been significant price increases.
“Price increases range between N$104 to N$200 at various pharmacies for immune booster, for hand sanitizers, the prices has increased from N$20 to a minimum of N$44 or as much as N$75 in some instances and with regard to the mask, we discovered that pre COVID-19 outbreak masks would retail for around N$10 for 3 ply masks and N$100 for the N95 mask, however today retailers are selling the masks at N$75 for 3 ply and N$230 for the N95.” the Commission stated.
Therefore in terms of percentages, the Commission observed that the pricing for immune boosters has doubled with an average of 92%, while hand sanitizers increased by almost 300% and the 3ply face mask prices increased by 31%, while the N95 masks prices increased by more than 600%.