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Authorities pass legislation to stop price gouging

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Posted: Saturday, March 14, 2020. 12:54 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Following countrywide reports of businesses drastically increasing the prices of sanitizers and cleaners in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities have passed legislation to protect the public from price gouging.

Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 33 of 2020 came into effect today, March 24, 2020, after collaborative work between the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and  Commerce, through the Supplies Control Unit (SCU) of the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS), Solicitor General’s Office, Attorney General’s Ministry, and the Ministry of Health.

“The newly introduced Part F of the First Schedule to these regulations seeks to cover major categories of goods for domestic and commercial applications and includes bleach, peroxide and other supplies: liquid soap, face masks (N95) and alcohol-based sanitizers,” the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) said.

The new regulations require all wholesale and retailers to issue receipts that contain a full description of the purchased goods, the quantity sold and date of such transaction, the name and address of the vendor and the purchaser, the price at which the goods are being sold, and where the sale is by wholesale the maximum retail price at which such goods should be sold.

The regulations also empowers the Controller of Supplies to empower authorities to review all records and receipts of sales of price-controlled items. Failure to produce those records, or any attempt to hinder such persons from carrying out their review of those records will amount to an offense and is punishable by a $25,000 fine upon conviction.

The BBS said that its toll-free hotline 0-800-283-5587 is available for members of the public who wish to make complaints about stores that are overcharging on these items. Yesterday, several municipal authorities had warned that any store found price gouging would have their trade licenses revoked.

 

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