The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) will
take strong action against any traders who intend to increase prices of
essential items for Fijian consumers during this emergency period.

“We will be cracking down on any trader who tries to take
advantage of Fijians by price-gouging on items like face masks and hand
sanitiser,” said FCCC CEO, Joel Abraham.

Abraham has urged Fijians not to panic buy, but instead,
make an emergency plan and be prepared.

“The idea of COVID-19 spreading can be quite scary and panic
can easily become prevalent among Fijians. We urge Fijians to avoid panicking
and panic buying as it will only make matters worse. The best thing to do is to
ensure you have an emergency plan for you and your family and adhere to all
advisories by our hardworking medical teams and the Fijian Government,” he
said.

“FCCC is currently undertaking a market assessment on the
supply and understanding of supply disruption when it happens. We need to
approach this from a balanced viewpoint.”

Price gouging is the practice of raising prices on certain
types of goods and services to an unfair level, especially during a state of
emergency.

This situation is especially of concern when it comes to
pharmaceutical products as the majority of medicine in Fiji is imported.

In order to aid with these concerns, FCCC will be
collaborating with the Fiji Pharmaceutical Society to see if items can be
rationed according to the severity of need.

FCCC has met with stakeholders, fuel companies, Grocers
Association and the Chamber of Commerce to note potential market impacts as
well as prepare strategies in the event that a case of COVID-19 arises.

“The upcoming COVID-19 Response supplementary budget coming
up on March 26 will help alleviate pressure and we will be looking at other
policy measures to reduce any impact.”

FCCC is an independent statutory authority whose role is to
promote competition, promote fair trade, regulate prices in markets where
competition is lessened or limited, and regulate monopolistic market situations
including national infrastructure for the benefit of all Fijians.

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