Jamaica takes steps to stop price gouging
KINGSTON – The Jamaica government says as of Tuesday, retailers found to be charging customers excessive prices for goods during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can be fined up to JCA $2 million or sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have approved the Trade (Sale of Goods During Period of Declaration of Disaster Area) Order 2020, as a means of stamping out recent cases of price gouging stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.
Under the Order, no person whose business includes the retail sale of goods shall sell any necessary goods to another person at a price higher than the price charged immediately before the coming into force of the Disaster Risk Management (Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, 2020, on March 18.
This is unless that person proves that the difference in the price in question is attributable solely to the cost to business concerned for obtaining the particular goods.
The new legislation covers a number of items including food or drink; personal care items such as soap, cleaning products, antibacterial products, toiletries, alcohol, hand sanitisers, bleach, and gloves; and medical supplies, including surgical masks and prescription and non-prescription medication.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, who introduced the Order in the Senate, said it is aimed at protecting consumers.