- 11 companies and individuals in SA have been accused of hiking prices amid the Covid-19 outbreak
- Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel announced that the competition commission is investigating these companies
- The government has imposed strict regulations on essential items
11 companies are being investigated for allegedly hiking prices of items such as face masks and hand sanitisers as Covid-19 sweeps through the country.
Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel announced that these companies would be placed under the microscope.
He spoke at a press briefing in Pretoria, where the country's ministers responsible for the economy were explaining the interventions that are planned.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa's dramatic announcement that the country would be placed on a 21-day lockdown, which would commence on Friday morning. The number of confirmed case rose sharply to 554 on Tuesday.
Briefly.co.za learned that the government has announced that in an effort to stop the excessive price hikes of certain items such as basic foodstuffs, healthcare products, and important medical supplies, companies would face strict regulations.
Patel revealed that the government had received a number of complaints from the public of companies and individuals who were jacking their prices up. He said that these firms and people were under investigation by the Competition Commission and the National Consumer Commission, according to Fin24.
"[The firms] have been found to be selling products like face masks, hand sanitisers and others for high prices and abusing the situation. More firms are now being investigated and prosecutions will follow," he said.
Penalties for flouting the regulations include fines of R1 million, fines of up to 10% of a company's turnover, or one year in jail.
In other news, Briefly.co.za reported on fake news that the government would only help 51% owned black companies. A research team has rubbished this idea and the Sarah Mokwebo, spokesperson for the Department of Small Business Development, has confirmed this is fake news.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced a number of measures will be put into place to help smaller businesses during the implementation of the 21-day lockdown.
The government announced that this would include a Debt Relief Fund and a Business Growth Resilience Facility:
“The Debt Relief Fund is aimed at providing relief on existing debts and repayments, to assist SMMEs during the period of the Covid-19 State of Disaster. This facility will assist entities to acquire raw material, pay labour and other operational costs. All these interventions will be structured to match the patterns of the SMMEs’ cash flows, as well as the extent of the impact suffered."
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