A total of 24 businesses and people in the City of Kigali have been fined after they were caught inflating prices in the wake of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Rwanda has put in stringent measures to avert the possible spread, including stopping all social and public gatherings as well as unnecessary movement of people to nip in the bud the spread of the virus which has so far seen 11 people in Rwanda test positive.
The outbreak of the New Coronavirus globally has led to uncertainty within societies, with people rushing to buy goods to stock while traders in some countries have taken advantage of the outbreak to increase prices of main basic goods.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry on March 16 requested all traders to comply with Law n• 36/2012 of 21/ 09/ 2012 Relating to Competition and Consumer Protection, warning against possible inflation of prices in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“Following inspections conducted in the City of Kigali which found abnormal increase in prices of some food products, intentional use of unapproved weighing scales and issuance of illegal invoices,”
“The Ministry has so far fined 24 companies and business people in the City of Kigali for a total amount of Rwf 1.68 million,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry reiterated that it is mandatory for all traders to comply with the laws but desisting the need to increase prices illegally.
“Any traders found violating these laws will be fined in accordance with Article 52 and Article 55 of the Law Relating to Competition and Consumer Protection, with penalties of 5% to 10% of the company’s annual turnover of the preceding fiscal year or payment of fines in the range of Rwf20.000 to RwF5.000.000 should the company fail to provide its annual turnover statement,” the statement adds.
The traders fined operate in the markets of Ziniya-Kicukiro, Kagugu- Gasabo, Kimironko- Gasabo and Nyarugenge who were found to be increasing the prices of rice, maize flour, cooking oil and other products. They were slapped with fines ranging between Rwf50, 000 and Rwf20, 000.
Despite the crackdown, traders are still inflating prices. KT Press found that rice which normally goes for Rwf1, 000 in now sold at Rwf1, 300 in Kimironko area and its environs.
As per Article 27 and Article 29 of the Law n• 35/91 of 5’h August 1991 governing the organization of Infernal trade, the Government may also: impose an additional administrative fine, require the culprit to repay the profit unduly benefited from the buyer, and suspend the culprit’s trading activities for a maximum period of three months.
The Minister of Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye said that the government would not allow traders to take advantage of the New Coronavirus crisis to inflate prices.
Among other things, she said the government would put in place incentives and a stimulus package to allow businesses to continue working and also facilitate traders to import much needed goods in the country.
The government has given a stern warning to people taking advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak to defraud consumers. The government has effectively set prices for most basic goods to avoid price manipulation.
The Ministry of Trade has warned traders, reminding them that regular inspections to nab those flouting prices is ongoing.