FCCC warns fuel traders against hoarding

Fuel traders stand to face even harsher penalties if they continue to hoard fuel, particularly on the eve before new prices come into effect.

This comes after the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) revealed intentions to make submissions to the Fijian Government to impose tougher penalties after receiving reports from consumers claiming that some traders were holding back fuel stock.

FCCC Chief Executive Joel Abraham said such practices are in breach of section 87G of the FCCC Act 2010 which at present attracts penalties of up to $10,000 for the first offence and $100,000 for a second or subsequent offence, or imprisonment for up to 10 years. For bodies corporate, the maximum penalty is 5 times higher.

“Hoarding mainly serves to harm the most financially vulnerable members of our society who often can only afford to buy items from paycheque to paycheque. Depriving them of essentials is extremely unethical behaviour,” said Abraham.

“We received complaints from consumers claiming that some fuel traders were holding back fuel stock prior to the fuel price coming into effect for this month — this is not acceptable.”

Section 87G FCCC Act 2010 states: “a person who is in possession of goods for mercantile purposes must not destroy or hoard the goods or refuse to sell the goods or make them available for sale if the destruction, hoarding or refusal is done to charge a price higher than the price it is normally sold at a time convenient to the person or immediately before the higher price is fixed”.

“Our Act sets out significant penalties, but if traders are bold enough to test the system we will not hesitate to prosecute them to the full extent of the law, and even make submissions to the legislature seeking higher penalties until we hit a point of sufficient deterrence,” Abraham said.

The FCCC urges the public to report instances of hoarding to FCCC with photographs and other evidence through the FCCC web app at https://fccc.app/. You can also contact FCCC on 892 1991 or through live chat at https://fccc.gov.fj/.

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