Market News

Competition watchdog mulls investigating rising prices of goods

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Shoppers at a supermarket in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The competition watchdog says it may conduct a survey to ascertain the current increase in the price of basic commodities as consumers grapple with the high cost of goods.

The rising prices of a wide range of goods including eggs, milk, cooking oil, fuel, and cooking gas has been blamed on several factors including shortages, high production costs, and supply chain disruption in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) director for policy Adano Wario said the regulator will seek to find if there are any unjustified price increases that could be hurting consumers.

“We can investigate, we can do screening to find out what the facts are on the ground and why the prices are increasing that is an area we can come in and find out if the prices are justified,” said Dr Wario.

The official said in spite of the global shocks that have seen prices of most commodities surge, the possibility of some players engaging in price gouging to cash in on the prevailing economic situations in the country could not be ruled out.

Dr Wario said the fact that the prices have been increasing sharply, gives the agency an opportunity to go dig further and find the cause.

“If these goods are coming from other countries such as Russia or Ukraine we have to look at the volume of imports now and how that is related to the previous imports,” he said.

Dr Wario spoke on Friday on the sidelines of the Comesa Competition Commission (CCC) Sensitisation workshop for Business Community in Kenya.

The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has been urged to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to increase intra-regional trade to offset wheat deficits occasioned by the Eastern Europe war.

Chief executive officer of the CCC Willard Mwemba said it is time that Africa found a homegrown solution by growing enough agricultural produce.

“The current situation opens up our eyes that as Africa we should focus more on homegrown solutions like growing more food,” said Dr Mwemba.

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