Up to $2 million in fines for retailers who gouge prices

Shoppers rush to get anti-bacterial products in Downtown Kingston, after Jamaica recorded its first confirmed case of the coronavirus-COVID-19 on March 10, 2020. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

Retailers who deliberately increase their prices to profit from the demand for supplies due to the coronavirus outbreak could be slapped with a fine of up to $2 million.

This is according to State Minister for Industry and Commerce, Floyd Green.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister said the Trade Sales of Goods During Period of Declaration Order 2020, which falls under the Trade Act, will be coming into effect to curb price gouging.

This is due to the many complaints his Ministry has been receiving about retailers who are gouging their prices.

“Between the 9th and 13th day of March, our Consumer Affairs Commission went and visited 43 outlets looking especially at sanitisation products, for which we were getting a myriad of complaints.

What we found was that there was, in fact, unexplained rises in prices across a number of the items,” he said.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Floyd Green

“In one case, we got a report out of St Ann where the aerosol spray that was normally sold for $850 in retail was being sold for $1,641,” he said.

“The people who suffer most when these prices are raised to unconscionable levels are the most vulnerable in our society,” he added.

Minister Green said that the Disaster Risk Management Order would prohibit price increases higher than the charge that existed before the order came into force.

And the Consumer Affairs Commission would have the power to demand accounting materials for examination.