30 March 2020
For some business groups, the outbreak of COVID-19 is the time when they could raise the prices of basic commodities and necessary products leaving the consumers with no option but buy those products higher than their usual prices. The hiking price makes the common people struggle to buy their basic needs at a fair price as most of the people belong to basic income families. The report of confirmed COVID-19 in Myanmar brought panic to the people recently especially in Yangon, making the people rush for groceries mostly to store at home assuming they might not be able to go out or the city may get lockdown.
Therefore with the aim to tackle the issue like this, under the collaboration of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), MEODA and Myanmar Rice Federation sell basic groceries at a fair price for the common people starting from setting the booth at City of Industry Hlinethaya Management Office where rice, oil, salt and other necessary groceries for the household are being sold.
Speaking on how important opening the booth for selling groceries at a fair price or at lower price compare to the other shopping mall, U Sann Linn, Joint Treasurer of UMFCCI said, “With the aim of stabilizing the basic groceries market, we organize this program where we sell rice, oil, salt and other products, we want to have direct contact with the consumers by selling them basic groceries. What I can tell is the products we get here are much cheaper than what we get at shopping mall and other distributors market.”
According to the organizers, the same will be carried out through out Yangon in coming days with especially in the township like Hlinethaya where industrial zones are located. The reason for choosing industrial zones is these are the areas most populated and basic income families live. And basic income families find hard to buy their groceries at a fair price.
Speaking on the issue of some products hike after confirmed case of COVID-19 in Myanmar, U Sann Linn also said, “The problem with this issue is some people are after the rumor that the industries and other workplaces are going to be closed, there is a rumor about the enclosure of industries in Malaysia which are oil refinery industries, but the truth, that is not true at all. We always keep in touch with different part of companies reviewing what we hear is true or not. But some people believe this sort of rumor, and they store a huge amount of oil more than what they usually store. We want to tell to the public that imports come regularly, the industries are not closed down, at the same time we also make sure that we export only suitable amount of rice knowing the demand of rice in the market right now domestically and we must be prepared for any possible shortage of rice. Do not listen to rumor”.
Despite all the rumors and some products getting price hike, the government is taking measurements to effectively punish those who spread the rumor and especially those shops which sell goods at higher price taking the advantage of consumers demand.
U Zayar Swe, Deputy Director for the Department of Consumers Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce also said, “As per rule and regulation, the Department of Consumers Affairs makes sure that the consumers get their rights to its fullness. For the whole region of Yangon, we have ten inspecting officers in four different districts. We make sure that the consumers get the right products, if any of distributors violate the rules but selling the wrong products, at first we give a warning. If it is found that the same mistake is committed twice, then we take action by suspending the license for six months.”