In response to the soaring food prices and anti-competitive practices, the Federal Government, acting through the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), is set to roll out sanctions against members of trade associations found guilty of such misconduct.
Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, made this announcement during a high-level forum organized by the commission to address the issue of fair food prices.
The forum, titled ‘Fair food prices in Nigeria: A high-level forum for better competition,’ aimed to discuss the factors contributing to the escalation of food prices and explore potential solutions.
According to the FCCPC, the recent surge in food inflation has been attributed to the escalating prices of various food items, including oil and fat, bread and cereals, fish, potatoes, yam, fruits, meat, vegetables, milk, cheese, and eggs.
The National Bureau of Statistics revealed that the month-on-month food inflation rate in June 2023 was 2.40 per cent, marking a 0.21 per cent increase from the rate recorded in May 2023 (2.19 per cent).
The average annual rate of food inflation for the twelve months leading to June 2023 was 24.03 per cent, indicating a significant 5.41 per cent points rise from the average annual rate in June 2022 (18.62 per cent).
The urgency of the situation was underscored last week when Mr. Tinubu, a key political figure, declared a State of Emergency on food insecurity. In response to the crisis, he ordered the inclusion of matters related to food and water availability and affordability within the jurisdiction of the National Security Council.
Addressing the issue further, Mr. Irukera emphasized that certain trade unions had formed cartels to engage in anti-competitive practices, leading to the unjustified inflation of essential food items.
The FCCPC CEO stressed that combating indiscriminate food price hikes had become vital, especially following the president’s declaration of food security as a national emergency.
Irukera pledged that the commission would closely monitor the market and promptly intervene when exploitative conduct or excessive pricing is identified. He highlighted that breaking the stranglehold of associations that dictate prices and limit trading to their members was a key area the government would target.
The FCCPC CEO also shed light on the importance of regulating not just big companies and the formal sector but also the informal sector.
Given that a substantial portion of Nigeria’s economy operates informally, finding strategies to regulate this sector becomes even more critical.
As the Federal Government takes a tough stance against anti-competitive practices and seeks to ensure fair food prices, the nation watches closely to witness the impact of these sanctions and the measures taken to stabilize the food market in the face of inflationary pressures.