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Cameroon-Price Hike: Government Beats Around Bush

Minister of Trade Luc Magloire Mbarga

The Minister of Commerce, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana signed two decrees on 14 April 2022, the content of which is already contained in a law dating from 2015.

The soaring prices of consumer goods and basic necessities on the Cameroonian market has reached the alert level for several weeks. The government, which has been accused of inertia and inefficiency in dealing with this growing phenomenon, has intervened to provide explanations. During a press conference, the Minister of Trade justified the situation by the harmful effects of the coronavirus pandemic and especially by the war in Ukraine.

However, on the market, if it is true that the difficult access to certain products is linked to these two reasons, the rise in prices of other products is due to the bad faith of sellers. Consumers complain and, in the absence of a binding mechanism that could help them, they submit against their will.

It is in this context that the Minister of Trade Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana signed two decrees. Their objective is to overcome the illegal increase in prices of products and services on the market.

The first decree obliges producers, importers and wholesalers of eight products to deposit at the Ministry of Trade, the price list of these goods before any sale. These products are pasta, sardines, margarine, spirituous alcohols, detergents, household soaps and packaging, electric cables and wires, as well as paints and tiles.

The second regulatory act reminds stakeholders that the setting of prices for certain consumer products and services, 17 in total, is done in concert between the public authorities and traders. This agreement takes place before these products and services are put on sale.

This obligation is contained in Article 44 of 21 December 2015 governing commercial activity in Cameroon. The 17 products include rice, fish, domestic gas, cement, bread, refined vegetable oils, concrete iron, port services, etc.

However, on reading the law of 21 December 2015, these measures have been in place for years but are struggling to be implemented on the ground. It is observed that traders in particular decide unilaterally to raise prices whenever they want.

Sometimes they start by creating a kind of shortage on certain products before brandishing the price increase. At the same time, the authorities are not able to be everywhere on the ground to ensure the control of the implementation of these legal and regulatory obligations. The control and fraud repression brigades are thus called upon to be more effective on the ground.

Published on 03.01.2023

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