A State of Emergency means a complete shutdown for a duration of 14 days and many families have been left with very little time to prepare. This means last minute purchasing of supplies and consumers are left with minimal choices given the abrupt notice.
Numerous public complaints have surfaced of an increase in the costs of various goods directly related to the coronavirus threat in the country.
Des Yaninen, founder of the PNG Consumer Advocacy Network, says since they triggered the conversation on social media, there is a lot more awareness now on consumer rights.
“We got asked about companies that were increasing the prices of what they were selling as a result of the coronavirus,” stated Yaninen.
“So we put that out on our platform and it got shared, well it went viral, we had over 400 shares and as a result of that, we saw the ICCC coming in and they had a press conference announcing that companies are not supposed to be doing that.
“So raising prices is price-gouging and it’s actually illegal in some parts of the world. It’s forcing the authorities to take action.”
The ICCC on March 20 held a press conference and reiterated to businesses not to take advantage of the situation and hike up prices of goods and services.
ICCC Commissioner, Paulus Ain, says all businesses are expected to be responsible and work with the government during this time of crisis.
“So it is our role to make sure that the business houses are not taking advantage of the situation by price-gouging and unnecessary ripping off people by inflating the prices of goods and services.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner urged consumers to revert to agricultural based subsistence. He says unlike other countries, who rely heavily on imported products, PNG should not be panicking about food.
“The options that you need to consider are garden food, rather than for us to continue to rely on imported products.”
(The inflated pricing on rice in a shop in Port Moresby; Picture: PNG Consumer Advocacy Network Group)