FCCPC to Sanction Trade Groups Hiking Food Prices
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) will begin to roll out sanctions against members of trade associations guilty of anti-competitive practices, and indiscriminate and irrational hikes in food prices.
This was disclosed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, on Tuesday during a forum organised by the commission to discuss fair food prices.
Speaking at the forum 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 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 Mr Irukera, some trade unions had constituted cartels to engage in anti-competitive practices that have led to price gouging of basic food items.
He noted that taking a hard line against indiscriminate food price hikes had become imperative in light of the president’s declaration of food security as a national emergency last week.
Mr Irukera said, “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 discussions around this came as President Bola Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food insecurity which has led to tripling the cost of food.
The Nigerian leader said his government will create and support a National Commodity Board that will review and continuously assess food prices. Part of the board’s duty will be to maintain a strategic food reserve that will be used as a price stabilisation mechanism for critical grains and other food items.
Yesterday, he ordered the immediate review of the N8,000 stipend to be shared to 12 million poor households in Nigeria for a period of six months.