28 March, 2018, 12:00 am
PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says many items that were controlled by monopolies in the past are now being cracked down on.
“And these set powerful examples that are already working to deter others from unethical behaviour,” the PM said.
Mr Bainimarama made this comment while launching the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (FCCC) five-year strategic plan and rebranding on Monday at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel.
He said the 2017-2018 National Budget had granted additional legislative powers and resources to the commission to be used for special investigations.
“And this increased oversight and additional funding has already proven to be well-spent, as the FCCC has penalised several monopolistic importers and wholesalers who were gouging prices at the expense of Fijian consumers,” Mr Bainimarama said.
He said from food to pharmaceuticals to hardware to baby products and more, we were seeing these laws drastically bring down prices for the benefit of Fijians everywhere.
“And all of this increased protection isn’t coming at the cost of business growth; just last year, Fiji experienced a 7.2 per cent growth in retail sales,” he said.
Mr Bainimarama also said Fiji needed protection from possible swings in global prices because many factors that affected the price of imported goods were beyond our control but other factors were.
“And unfortunately, we have some unethical businesses who, if left unchecked, would take advantage of these swings and make their effect much more dramatic. Because of this, the FCCC actively prevents additional price gouging by enforcing price caps, resulting in fair prices for ordinary Fijians,” Mr Bainimarama said.
Meanwhile, FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham, in moving the vote of thanks, said: “The FCCC’s Strategic Plan 2018-2023 is in line with the Fijian Government’s commitment to protecting all Fijians through a robust competition and consumer protection legislation.
“With a renewed focus, we will work towards ensuring economic growth, creating competitive markets, forward thinking regulations, and protecting consumer interests.”