CFTC, CAMA in blame game over sugar prices

The Competition and Fair-Trading Commission (CFTC) has dismissed remarks by the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), which has faulted the Commission for failing to protect Malawians on rising sugar prices.

According to CAMA, the country’s major sugar producer, Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited has been registering supernormal profits at the expense of an economically challenged environment.

But reacting to the blame, CFTC, through its spokesperson Innocent Helema, has refuted the blame, citing that the Commission has worked tirelessly to safeguard consumer welfare within what he calls the dictates of the law.

He said: “Let me put the record straight that the Commission has not, in any way, failed in its duty to protect consumers. We have worked tirelessly as an institution to safeguard consumer welfare within the dictates of the law.

“On the specific issues regarding sugar, you may want to know that CFTC has handled a number of cases in relation to the sugar industry in the past.”

CFTC says that the concluded cases include the alleged anti-competitive business practice by Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited and its Appointed Warehouse Administrator for Karonga Warehouse.

It adds that the other concluded cases involved the pricing of molasses in foreign currency and selling sugar at higher prices locally and lower prices on the export market.

Recently, Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited faulted Ministry of Trade and Industry for issuing two import licenses for 20 000 tons of brown sugar to Mugisha Investments.

The permits allow for 10,000 tons each of sugar to be imported from Zimbabwe and Mozambique through Dedza and Mwanza borders, respectively.

Helema added that there are a number of cases involving Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited currently under way for which the Commission is yet to make its determinations.

“Currently, there are live cases under way for which the Commission is yet to make determinations, and we cannot say much about them for legal correctness,” he disclosed.

The Commission has refused to comment on monopoly accusations pointed at Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited because CFTC has neither done a study to ascertain that Illovo is barring entry into the market and nor have we received complaints relating to the same.

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