Foreign Nationals Refuse To Pay Fine

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) brought two foreign nationals to their Lae office for questioning on Tuesday (July 5th) afternoon.

The foreigners, who operate a wholesale business at Mutzing, Morobe Province, had allegedly refused to pay a K10,000 fine for violating pandemic measure 11.

On the 9th of May this year, Pandemic Controller, David Manning, issued Measure No.11 under the National Pandemic Act 2020 on price controls.
The prices of basic household goods such as rice, flour, oil, tinned fish, sugar, laundry soap and bleach should not increase by more than 10 percent unless approved by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission.

ICCC Commissioner, Paulus Ain, flew into Lae on Tuesday, where he was joined by officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Authority and Investment Promotion Authority. Ain said they conducted a joint inspection where they noted that the foreign nationals, who run a wholesale business at Mutzing, in Morobe’s Markham district, had increased the prices of tinned fish without seeking approval from the ICCC.

“The ICCC is currently conducting an enforcement exercise on business houses that are non-compliant with the initial exercise – I think 2-3 months ago, for business houses not to increase the prices of certain items identified by the national pandemic controller,” he explained.

“So we’ve gone around and informed all the business houses not to increase the base price of items on the shelf. All business houses in Papua New Guinea have been delivered that letter and they have acknowledged that they won’t do this.” 

A spokesman of the business in question, Ping Zheng, said he refused to reduce his price because it is costly to transport items from Lae to Mutzing, which is almost 2 hours away.

“Lo mipla haiwei, em bai painim fuel gen, olgeta samting gen,” he stated. (For those of us along the highway, we have to get fuel and other stuff.) “Kain olsem, kago blo yu, em bai putim lo kontena na karim go, em bai prais blo em bai go antap ken.” (For instance, when you put your cargo into a container and transport it, the price will increase.)

Apart from violating the emergency measure, pursuant to the Price Regulation Act Chapter 320, other issues also came to light during the inspection which sister agencies, the Immigration and Citizenship Authority and Investment Promotion Authority, will look into.

The price control measure will expire on August 7th. It also prohibits businesses from increasing the prices of medical services.

Carmella Gware