The Consumer Council of Fiji has commended the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission for its prompt and decisive action in addressing the issue of excessive price increases of chicken in the wake of the recent VAT hike.
Consumer Council of Fiji CEO, Seema Shandil stated this earlier adding that while the VAT increase was implemented at a reasonable 6 percent, they have observed certain traders unjustifiably raising the prices of essential goods, particularly chicken, by as much as 25 percent.
Shandil says numerous consumers have raised their concern regarding the disproportionate price hike on chicken and other essential products following the implementation of the tax increase.
She further says according to their analysis, there is a significant discrepancy between the VAT rise and the subsequent price increases imposed by certain traders.
The CEO says while a 6 percent VAT hike would naturally warrant a marginal increase in retail prices, some unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of the situation, imposing unjustified and excessive price surges on consumers, especially on chicken - a staple protein source for many Fijian households.
She further says in response to these concerning developments, they are calling for stringent measures to address the issue and protect consumers from price exploitation.
Shandil says the warning sounded by FCCC that if businesses continue with price exploitation on chicken, they would consider regulating the prices is welcomed by the Council.
She further says however, we also need some deterrent in the form of enforcement actions against traders engaging in such practices.
The Council CEO says we cannot leave consumers’ interest and financial well-being at the discretion of businesses that seem to only care about their profit margins.
She further says that while a price reduction can be seen after FCCC’s intervention, some supermarkets have labelled this decrease as a discount; with a validity till the 31st of this month.
Shandil says they are calling on traders, particularly supermarkets to justify why there is a price validity date and what will happen to the prices come next month.
She asks are they going to resort to price exploitation again?
The CEO says this needs to be immediately answered and addressed as the Consumer Council of Fiji recognizes the importance of collaborative efforts between regulatory bodies and consumer advocacy organizations to ensure that consumers' rights are upheld and will work with enforcement bodies to ensure the interest of consumers are protected.
She further says as we move forward, the Consumer Council of Fiji encourages consumers to report any instances of price gouging or price via the toll-free number 155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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