Barrow Invokes Powers to Punish Hoarders of Essential Commodities
The Ministry of Justice has released regulations Tuesday signed by President Adama Barrow that empowers law enforcers to arrest and prosecute any businessperson who is found hoarding essential commodities in the country.
The prices of the basic food commodities such as rice and cooking materials and other non-consumable items such as soaps and hand sanitizers have been skyrocketing in the local market amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
Offenders will be fined half a million dalasi upon conviction while vendors will have their trade licenses suspended before after the arrest and revoked upon conviction.
“In exercise of the powers conferred on the President by Section 3 of Emergency Powers Act, these regulations are made,” the statement indicated.
“It may be cited as Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulation 2020. These regulations shall subsist until the end of the proclamation of public emergency issued on the 18th March 2020.”
Price Control of Essential Commodities
“The wholesale and retail prices of all essential commodities are hereby frozen to the prices they were sold in the open market as at 18 March 2020 as specified in the Schedule of these Regulations.
“Essential commodities are rice, maize, millet flour, sugar, milk, bread, chicken, egg and meat, fish, cooking oil, potato, onion, tomato paste, cement soap, and hand sanitizers.”
In the Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulation 2020, a person shall not hoard any essential commodity in any way, shape or form.
A wholesaler or retailer or an essential commodity or a person employed by him or her shall not refuse to sell such commodity or give any other indication which could not reasonably lead the purchaser to believe that he or she has not got the commodity, etc.
While businesses are prohibited to hoard commodities, they are entitled to refuse selling large quantities of commodities to an individual if they reasonably believe that the quantity is beyond the buyer’s need.
The Regulations have also prohibited the export of any essential commodities outside the country.
A person who breaches a provision of these Regulations commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of D500, 000.
A vendor of essential commodities who breaches a provision of these Regulations shall have his or her trade license suspended after his or her arrest and revoked after his or her conviction.