By Yankuba Jallow
President Adama Barrow has passed a law that freezes the prices of all essential commodities to the prices they were sold in open market as at 18th March 2020.
The President acting under his powers under section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act has promulgated the Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations pursuant to the Proclamation of a State of Public Emergency under section 34 (1) (b) of the Constitution in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Under these Regulations, the wholesale and retail prices of all essential commodities are frozen to the prices they were sold in open market as at the 18th March 2020.
The essential commodities affected are; rice, maize, millet , flour, chicken, sugar, milk, bread, egg, meat, fish, cooking oil, onion, tomato paste, cement, potato, soap and sanitizers.
The Regulation prohibits the hoarding of any essential commodity or imposing conditions requiring the buyer of other commodities or services as a condition for the sale of an essential commodity.
Section 5 provides that the re-export of all the mentioned essential commodities and petroleum products are also suspended for the duration of the Regulations.
It provides that any person who violates the Regulations is liable to prosecution and a fine of five hundred thousand dalasi and the immediate suspension of his or her trade license, and its revocation upon his or her conviction. The Ministry of trade encouraged all traders to cooperate with the Essential Commodities Committee (ECC) which has been established for the strict enforcement of the Regulations. The composition of the ECC are; the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Executive Secretary of Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, the Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority, Inspector General of Police, Director General of State Intelligence Services and the President of the Consumer Protection Consortium of the Gambia.
Section 3 states that a person shall not hoard any essential commodity in any way, shape or form. The same section provides that a wholesaler or retailer of an essential commodity or a person employed by him shall not refuse to sell such commodity or give any other indication which could reasonably lead to the purchaser to believe that he or she has not got the commodity. The wholesaler or the retailer or any person employed by them shall not offer to sell the commodity subject to a condition requiring the buying of other goods or the making of payment in respect of any service, or subject to any other condition except the payment of the price forthwith or take delivery within a reasonable time.
Section 4 of the Regulation provides that a vendor of an essential commodity shall be entitled to refuse to sell to a single purchaser, quantities he or she reasonable believes are beyond the purchaser’s current needs.