Government vows to crack whip on unscrupulous sugar traders

Minister of Trade and Industry Sosten Gwengwe has issued a stern warning to traders that are selling sugar at an exorbitant price, saying they will not be spared to continue with such unwarranted act.

He issued the warning on Thursday during the national commemoration of Consumer Rights Day organised by the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC).

Gwengwe said it has come to the attention of the ministry that while the price of sugar as recommended by Illovo is K37,500 per bale of 20 packets, some unscrupulous traders are selling the same at K60,000.

“What is happening is that a distributor is buying sugar at a recommended price [K37,500], but with intent to exploit the consumer, they are overcharging and selling it at K55, 000 or even K60, 000. So, when a hawker buys at that higher price, it is when they are charging the retail price of up to K3700.

“To deal with this, we are going to start issuing licences to all distributors of sugar to wipe out all illicit traders, and the licence will be revoked on breach of regulations,” he said.

Gwengwe attributed the scarcity of sugar being experienced in the country at the moment to low supply of the product.

He then took an opportunity of the day to lash out at the lending institutions that intentionally violate terms and conditions in order to dupe customers.

“There is an unfair business practice common among banks and other financial institutions; they hide some information from customers so that the terms and conditions of obtaining loans should seem flexible, but once they obtain the loan, they start to change,” Gwengwe said.

“Not only that, interest charges, default charges, and collateral demanded are unjustifiable. I want to ask the Reserve Bank and CFTC to police and deal with these unfair practices.”

The sentiments by the Gwengwe buttressed remarks by Senior Chief Kaomba of Kasungu, that earlier lamented that the sale of commodities such as sugar at unbearable prices is making life difficult for people in the country.

In his remarks, Chairperson for CFTC, Dr. Jerry Jana, has proposed for a win-win situation in business.

“For business to thrive, it means there is a buyer on one end and a seller on the other end, so one must not charge prices unjustifiably, and on the other hand, a buyer must not bargain in a manner that is going to run down the business; in this way, we are going to have a market that is favourable to all,” Dr. Jana said.

This year’s commemoration of Consumer Rights Day is being observed under the theme “Disclosure of Terms and Conditions, Traders Obligations.”

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