Yaounde (National Times)-Cameroon’s Trade Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana says he wouldn’t mind sealing an entire market in the country if traders fail to respect the official prices of basic commodities amid public outcry of business persons exploiting consumers.
Minister Atangana issued the threat Tuesday March 26th shortly after touring some markets in the capital city of Yaounde to acquaint himself with the prices of basic commodities.
At the end of the tour, the minister said, he has given a five day ultimatum for traders across the country to respect the official prices of basic commodities of face sanctions. Minister Mbarga told journalists that, he has instructed his collaborators across the country to update him on the situation of prices in the market.
Before the minister’s outing, a team from the same ministry had been to some other markets in Yaounde for the same purpose. In that outing, some shops were sealed out rightly for the non respect of the official prices of goods.
In the last couple of weeks, an increase in the prices of goods especially rice and fish sparked grumbling within households. Many fear the country could be inching towards a replay of the 2008 price hikes that provoked nationwide protests.
On March 20th, the minister and importers of basic commodities alongside the fish giant CONGELCAM had agreed on the price for a kilogram of rice and fish.
The new price tariff, of rice 25% after that meeting was agreed at 330FCFA per kilogram in Douala and Yaoundé, while the rice 5% called premium was set at 410FCFA in Douala and 425FCFA in Yaoundé. The difference in the prices is as a result of transportation. Fish of mackerel type 25+ was to sell at 1450FCFA.
One week after, traders increased the prices beyond the limit agreed with the minister. At least FCFA 100 had been added on the price per kilogram of fish and rice sparking outrage.
The case of consumers in the trouble-hit North West and South West Region is even worst. Traders unilaterally decide on the retail prices of goods given the deplorable security situation.