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Artificial Scarcity, Price Hike A Constant Worry

Authorities of the Ministry of Trade are in the field to ensure consumers’ demands are met without incurring extra cost during festive seasons including the Ramadan period.

As the Muslim community has commenced the one-month Ramadan fasting period, measures are afoot by business persons as well as the government to ensure a steady supply of basic commodities in the market. During these period of high demand of basic commodities, traders have the tendency to increase prices, create artificial scarcity and sometimes forge measuring instruments. These are permanent worries that authorities of the Ministry of Trade are constantly combatting to ensure there is fair play in the market. According to officials of the Regional Control Brigade at the Regional Delegation of Trade for the Centre, their team of controllers are carrying out regular surveillance in the field to ensure that basic commodities are sold at normal and affordable prices fixed by the Ministry. The presence of price control officials in the field is not only limited to checking the scrupulous respect of prices but also ensures that the products conform to the standards. This is to protect consumers from consuming expired or sub-standard goods that may have ravaging health effects. Retailers of basic commodities like rice, groundnuts, sugar, and flour amongst others that are sold in varying quantities sometimes manipulate their measuring scales while maintaining the prices. The objective in this case is to maximise profits to the expense of clients. With This, Felix E, Chief of Control Brigade at the Divisional Delegation of Trade for Lebialem in the South West Region says their services carry out metrological surveillances to follow-up those measuring and weighing instruments in order to protect consumers. The Ministry, he says usually organises promotional sales during this period to make basic commodities highly solicited by the Muslims accessible and affordable. The Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, has personally been in the northern part of the country, which has a dense Muslim concentration, to ensure the availability of sugar during this period given that government has suspended the importation of the commodity. Consumers of the commodity have been assured of its availability with an existing stock of 52,000 tons at the moment. The stock is expected to increase to 72,000 tons by July following ongoing production. Meanwhile, the price per kilogram of sugar is maintained at FCFA 650 while a packet of sugar cost FCFA 700 in Garoua, North Region. Trade Minister also visited other markets in northern Cameroon to ensure the availability of basic necessities highly solicited during the Ramadan period and expressed satisfaction that the markets are well furnished with these commodities like rice, milk, groundnuts and flour amongst others.

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