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Govt on alert as shops quietly hike prices

PAULINE DIKUELO
Govt on alert as shops quietly hike prices. PIC. PHATSIMO KAPENG
Government says it is aware of reports that some shops are taking advantage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to hike prices of certain key items, flouting regulations passed last month by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Ahead of the lockdown, Masisi had ordered that traders not increase prices of food supplies, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies and equipment. In a gazette regulation, the President had said these goods should be sold at cost, meaning suppliers, including traders and shops, should not put profit mark ups on them. 

However, a snap survey by Mmegi indicates that some shops have increased the prices of some of these specified goods, such as food, hand sanitisers, meat and others, violating the regulations passed. In one shop, Mmegi found that meat prices had doubled during the lockdown, without explanation to consumers. 

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame, told MmegiOnline that government is monitoring the

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situation and will take the action “when necessary”. 

"We are aware and have been receiving reports that we have followed even though some were not true. We continue to take necessary precautions and call on consumers to be specific and report those who are overpricing so that we can go approach them and take action,” she said. 

Serame said the ministry would soon provide phone numbers for consumers to call and report instances of price hikes.

Currently all shops trade for 12 hours during the lockdown as one of the preventative measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. This is despite the fact that supermarket licenses do not limit legal operating hours.



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