Fijian authorities have issued a stern warning to traders and retailers, cautioning them against unethical price practices.
The warning comes in the wake of misinformation circulating on social media and concerns over exorbitant chicken prices.
Fiji’s pricing enforcement agency Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) has warned traders that should they continue to defy fair pricing practices, it will not hesitate to impose stringent price regulations.
FCCC Chief Executive Joel Abraham clarifies that a price list circulating on social media, which imposes VAT on 21 zero-rated items and claims of government-driven price hikes, is incorrect.
The FCCC said that the price list originated from the Fiji Labour Party’s social media post in April to raise awareness about potential price changes. This occurred before the 2023-24 Budget Announcement, where the Fijian Government confirmed the continuation of the zero-rated policy on the 21 items, including the addition of prescribed medicines.
“I’ve spoken to the leader of the Labour Party Mr (Mahendra) Chaudhary. We’ve also sent them a letter to the same effect asking them to clarify their stance and their position,” Abraham said. ” We do note that most of that price list was developed as a matter of trying to raise awareness. This was pre-budget announcements, this was done in April. Now since then, what some people have done is taken the price list and in a deliberate attempt to spread misinformation, …saying, look, the government has increased the price. We would like to confirm that their case is totally incorrect.”
Items on zero VAT post-2023-24 Budget Announcement include flour, rice, sugar, canned fish, cooking oil, potato, onion, garlic, baby milk, powdered milk, liquid milk, dhal, tea, salt, soap, soap powder, toilet paper, sanitary pads, toothpaste, kerosene, cooking, and prescribed medicines.
Vat Increase Margin
Abraham also pointed out that the VAT increase from 9% to 15% on non-zero-rated items should be adjusted correctly.
FCCC officers will monitor prices in the coming days to ensure correct pricing on all items.
Exorbitant Chicken Prices Under Scrutiny
The issue of exorbitant chicken prices shared on social media as well triggered widespread public concern, prompting the FCCC to summon these traders to address the unethical pricing practices.
The FCCC has also taken proactive measures, monitoring prices on a daily basis across Fiji’s major centers, rural, and maritime areas while also reminding traders to adhere to fair pricing practices and ensure that prices reflect legitimate cost adjustments.
“We have confirmed that this price rises, maybe isolated to a few stores. We have informed the stakeholders that if they don’t correct their practices, FCCC will not think twice about imposing price regulation in this meaning that we will move to price control as of today. Our officers have been monitoring the situation since yesterday. We have already started seeing price reductions. We are hoping from today, tomorrow, and going into the weekend, the prices are going to come down and they should only be reflective of the changes in weights and any other cost adjustments that are legitimate in nature.”
The FCCC has called on the public to play an active role in reporting traders who continue unethical pricing practices.
“So we call on members of the public when you find any instances where you see exorbitant prices, it would also be useful to give us some context as to where this was in which store this was which location this was so that as an enforcement agency, we can move quickly.”
Photo: Courtesy of FCCC