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Gouging is not allowed; stores price gouging will be ticketed and closed: Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai

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Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2022. 9:28 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias:

“Gouging is not allowed, in particular at this time when things are so difficult, so we are going to fix that problem,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise José Abelardo Mai.

Mai said the government is aware there are stores that are engaged in price gouging to take advantage of rising prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war but warned that those stores will be ticketed and closed until they’ve paid their fines.

“All of these we are ticketing, probably $250, $300, but beside that, other than ticketing you, we are closing down your store, you go pay your tickets, and when you come and bring the receipts, you’ll reopen,” said Minister Mai.

“But I’m certain, after we do this to the first ten stores, they will fix up because nobody wants to lose customers.”

Minister Mai said that they will also publicize the names of the stores that have been ticketed and closed for price gouging and that it’s then up to the consumers to shop at those stores.

Minister Mai said that to be able to do that, the Attorney General’s Office is working on amending the Supplies Control Act.

“We are now moving to ticketable offenses,” he said.

“Going to a store and seeing that a merchant is gouging is unacceptable, especially during these difficult times. So, instead of taking them to court and going through a lengthy process and then two years after the court rules, that will not be the case.”

Mai said that the control officers will now be able to walk into a store and will be able to ticket the storeowner if the store is not abiding.

“If you walk into a store and the price-controlled goods are not itemized, that is an infraction. You’re breaking the law. If you go to the store and the corned beef doesn’t have a price on it, that is another violation. If I ask you for your invoices and you don’t have them, that is another infraction.”

Mai said that those infractions will merit a ticket and closure.

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