Enforcement against overpricing of essential items is essential
The public is complaining, with reason, about the increase in prices of essential products during the spread of the Coronavirus.
Some shops are allegedly profiting from the sale of scarce items that can help avoid the spread of the virus. These items include hand sanitisers, masks, gloves, disinfectants, medicines, vitamins and inhalers.
There should also be some control over the price of food items, particularly fruit and vegetables; some sellers are selling agricultural products at exaggerated prices.
To protect vulnerable persons, who, under the circumstances, are having to pay high prices for these items, and to ensure that no one takes advantage of the current crisis, the Government should use its authority to introduce price control measures. These measures would mean that a business cannot sell essential items at a high price. Any shop owner caught breaking these restrictions should be fined.
The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority should monitor the price control measures and should take appropriate action against those shops that profit from the situation.
Moreover, until there is a comprehensive assessment of the situation, the Government should encourage people to report instances of abuse and practices that may be detrimental to the consumer during this crisis.
The Government has the necessary tools at its disposal and this portal is encouraging the Government to take them off the shelf to protect consumers, especially the vulnerable ones.