The Government is extremely concerned with the exorbitant increase in chicken prices charged by a few unscrupulous traders in the last few days.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says it's clear that some of these traders have tried to take unfair advantage of vulnerable consumers and to some extent sensationalise the VAT increase for reasons better known to them.
He says Government had formed a price surveillance taskforce comprising of FCCC, FRCS and the Ministry of Finance to monitor prices after the budget announcement, and they have clearly noted a disproportionatly large increase of over 30 percent in chicken prices in the last 2 days charged by few unscrupulous traders.
Professor Prasad says while chicken prices should have only increased by 6 percent given the increase in VAT from 9 to 15 percent, these businesses in their own commercial interest went ahead to increase prices by over 30 percent.
He stressed that this is unacceptable and they thank those industry stakeholders that have come out quickly to clarify this issue.
He says they expect that the market will immediately rectify this anomaly and he has also been advised by FCCC and have also got assurance from some of the industry players that chicken prices will be brought down immediately.
The Minister is reminding businesses that this kind of unscrupulous behaviour seen in the last 2 days is highly unacceptable.
The Deputy Prime Minister is also reminding the industry stakeholders that the poultry industry is highly protected by Government with a 32 percent fiscal duty and a 10 percent import excise duty.
Professor Prasad says this is a total tariff protection of 42 percent and they are only doing this to ensure that our citizens get affordable and high quality chicken products from the domestic market.
The Minister says the chicken wholesale and retail market is unregulated and they believe that there is sufficient competition in the market to avoid carteling and price fixing.
He says they are closely monitoring this situation and if need be, Government is prepared to take tough measures on those trying to distort the market.
Meanwhile, in a press conference this afternoon the CEO of FCCC Joel Abraham called on traders that exorbitantly increased the chicken price due to the increase in VAT, to stop this unethical practice or they will have to impose price regulation.
Abraham says they received a lot of concerns yesterday regarding the exorbitant price of chicken, namely Rooster and Crest Chicken.
He says they had noticed that some of the prices had reached as high as $33 but the specific product should be in the price range of $21 to $23.
Abraham says they have contacted the wholesalers and retailers, and under no circumstances, FCCC has told them that they can unethically raise the price.
He adds they have informed the stakeholders that if they do not correct their practices, FCCC will not think twice about imposing price regulation for this item.
The CEO says their officers have been monitoring the situation from yesterday and they have already started seeing reduction in price.
Abraham adds they hope from tomorrow and heading to the weekend, the prices are going to come down and it should be reflective of the changes in VAT and any other cost adjustments that are legitimate.
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