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Investigation into Alleged Bread Price-Fixing Conspiracy Underway

The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) has launched an investigation into allegation of bread price-fixing conspiracy involving bakers and bikers (the middlemen).

The recent shortage of modern bread or senfour across the Greater Banjul Area has been linked to price-fixing, prompting the authorities to mount a full-scale investigation.

“We want to know whether the shortage was as a result of any anti-competitive behavior,” said Babucarr Ceesay, GCCPC’s Principal Economist.

“They cannot come together and set up price and they cannot also do a collective strike or a collective action that will lead to reduction of supply of any item or commodity within the market.”

Ceesay told The Chronicle that there are allegations that the middlemen have set up an association that does collective bargaining for them which he said is against the provisions of the Competition Act 2007.

Bakers at work

“The reason why we call it competition is because consumers are out there going for the same product while we have different enterprises selling these products. If businesses come together to set one price without the government, then it means consumers have no choice but to go for the price they set. So that is what we are looking into.”

Under the Business Act, any baker or biker found guilty of collusive agreement resulting to the price increment can be charged up to 10% of his or her turnover for three years. The investigation is expected to last for at least a month.

Last month, members of the Senfour Modern Bakeries Association announced they’d end their strike and resume work after reaching a temporal agreement with the government. It followed weeks of bread shortage after shops hiked their price from seven dalasis to eight. Long queues were seen in front of shops in Banjul and other areas as consumers struggled to get hands on the most favorite bread in the urban area.

Bakery @Miranda Wu

Under the agreement, the bakers will sell senfour directly to shopkeepers at six dalasis, without having to go through the middle men or bikers whose services have been suspended in April for three months by the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment.

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