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The food market entertains high percents of price increments and price abuses according to a recent study by the Trade Competition and Consumer’s Protection Authority(TCCPA)when compared to manufacturing, construction, and service products.
The study that was conducted in Addis Ababa and in the regions of Oromia, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, and Somali explored market trends and practices.
From a range of market types the study had examined, the consumables market was rated highly prone to market dominance abuse, a form of sham commonly committed. Accordingly, this particular market received a 41.5 percentage rating,while the service sector is second with a 22.2 percent.
The growing construction and manufacturing industries are also victims of acts of abuse of market dominance receiving 16.2 and 11.3 percentages respectively.
The study identified a score of market manipulation forms. Limiting production, hoarding and withholding goods and imposing unfair selling price are among the repeated faults of the abuse.
Market monopoly, corruption,minimal application of the Trade Competition and Consumer Protection proclamation are the reasons that set off the market manipulations on the rampage.
Sentayew Mengestu, TCCPA Communication Head told Capital that both the consumer and traders awareness creation is still not sufficient to combat unfair trade price.
“We have seen business people especially in the foods market Setting unfair prices to make huge profits in a short time but these traders hurt the citizen because their action forces consumers to buy products at over inflated prices in addition to stifling out other businessmen form the market by monopolizing it.”
Sentayew commented the authority which is a government institution cannot scrutinize all markets and protect consumers from unlawful trader. However, the authority has taken legal actions on 20 companies in the last six months that were caught corrupting markets, nevertheless, that was insignificant in relation to the scope of the crime made against consumers. Sentayew asked consumers to inform the authority when they see unfair transaction.
The authority is putting together an SMS hot line within two weeks where consumers can ask the price of items, the head said. “On the SMS service, people interact with the new 8177 number that tells them the price of food items in the market.”
Some scholars have been cautioning the monopolies created in some spheres of food items market like edible oil and sugar that entertain shortage and inflation every season.
Frezer Belay, an instructor of economics in one of the private colleges operating in Addis Ababa said that the government should do more to alleviate these problems. “Look the price of edible oil in the market, it goes up every year and the same happens to sugar. The main reason is that there are small traders who control the market and who make their own decision on the prices. Minimizing their impact by multiplying the number of dealers is the task of the government,” he said.