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Senate approves ‘price-gouging’ order

Published:Monday | March 30, 2020 | 12:28 AM

The Senate on Friday approved an order that will make price-gouging a criminal offence, also causing offenders to face a fine of up to $2 million.

Price-gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services, or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.

The Trade (Sale of Goods During Period of Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, which was passed in the House of Representatives last week, received unanimous support from the members of the Upper House.

It will take effect on March 31.

The legislation is being introduced amid complaints that some supermarkets and pharmacies have been hiking the price of sanitising products.

The order details that no person whose business includes the retail sale of goods shall sell any necessary goods to another person at a price higher than the price charged immediately before the coming into force of the Disaster Risk Management (Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, 2020.

Under the order, the Consumer Affairs Commission has been authorised to demand books, accounts, or other documents from business establishments to investigate claims of price-gouging.