The Federal Government has announced plans to begin to roll out sanctions against members of trade associations guilty of anti-competitive practices, indiscriminate and irrational hike of food prices. The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, said this during a forum organised by the commission to discuss fair food prices, titled ‘Fair food prices in Nigeria: A high-level forum for better competition’.
He said, “We will continue to monitor the market, and where we find out that prices are excessive or find exploitative conduct, or find that consumers are being taken advantage of, we will intervene. One of the ways of intervening is unlocking the bottlenecks. That is what I just said, associations that come together to determine at what price beans should be sold, associations that come together to decide that nobody in a particular market should take yam, beans or rice from any other person except their members, we will proceed against them”.
According to Irukera, some trade unions had constituted cartels to engage in anti-competitive practices that had led to price gouging of basic food items. He noted that taking a hardline against indiscriminate food price hikes had become imperative in light of the President’s declaration of food security as a national emergency. Irukera disclosed that “Competition regulation and consumer protection is not only to regulate the big companies. It is not only to regulate the formal sector. It is also to regulate the informal sector. In a place like Nigeria, it is even more critical to find a strategy to regulate the informal sector because, at the end of the day, the vast majority of our economy is informal”, the FCCPC boss said.