How Rwanda is Managing Hard Times: Price ceiling, ration buying, heavy penalties for violation

By Elina Jonas Ruzindana
On 23 March 2020 at 12:38

The ripple effects of coronavirus that causes COVID—19, are continuing to bite into every aspect of life in Rwanda, harder and deeper. The volatility of food commodity prices has continued to take an ascending curve as consumers are in a frenzy of panic-buy, leading to stock-out in some markets.

The government has however calmed the citizens, assuring them of continued transporting and delivery of food items to the market places.

The government has also established price ceiling for the basic commodities and has dispatched market inspectors who go around different outlets, identifying traders who have raised prices and impose penalties on them.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Hakuziyaremye Soraya, has said that price ceilings have been set for basic goods to protect consumer rights.

"The reason for the introduction of price ceiling for basic products is to protect the consumer today so that traders do not rip them of their money," she said.

Hakuziyaremye also explained that even buyers have been subjected to rationed buying, setting a limit on the number of items they can buy to avoid shortage of goods on the market which could lead to higher prices.

Traders have been asked not to sell more than five kilograms of food items to a single buyer at ago.

The Minister made it clear that despite the closure of border and stopping movements within the county, transportation of foods and other goods, whether imported or internal delivery, continues as usual.

The Private Sector Federation (PSF) has assured the public that there is enough food and that there should not be any worries that the country will run into food and other commodity shortages.

In Kigali City markets, traders are now required to display price tags for all their products so that no buyer will be cheated in the circumstances.

On March 16, the Ministry of Trade and Industry [MINICOM] warned against price hikes with strong punitive measures against those caught in the eye of price dishonesty.

So far, 54 business people have been arrested and slapped with fines amounting to Rwf 4,380,000 in total on account of overcharging.

Some traders that had started hoarding [storing goods in anticipation of prices increase] have also been advised to stop the practice. MINICOM inspectors have taken stock of the major warehouses to establish stock movements and ensure that no hoarding whatsoever is exercised.

MINICOM has already issued a standardized ration-price list, outlining price ceiling for basic commodities, and rations buyers are supposed to take regardless of their economic status.

Food markets are some of the few places that are not closed to help people do daily shopping and enable the vendors earn a living. IGIHE toured various markets including Kimironko and found that the business was going on well and fixed prices were displayed.

Rwandans are required to co-operate to enable the country sail through these hard times as one united people.

The ripple effects of coronavirus that causes COVID—19, are continuing to bite into every aspect of life in Rwanda, harder and deeper.