If a draft Bill before Parliament is, the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u will have the power to regulate the prices of essential commodities.
The Price Control (Essential Goods) (Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposed by Khwisero MP Christopher Aseka, seeks to amend the Price Control (Essential Goods) Act of 2011, by introducing a section providing for the development of policy guidelines to set the maximum retail and wholesale prices for essential goods.
If the National Assembly approves the bill, essential goods such as maize, maize flour, wheat, wheat flour, rice, cooking fat, cooking oil, sugar, paraffin, diesel, and petrol. Further, the amendment suggests that the Cabinet Secretary can make recommendations for the appropriate reduction of the tariffs and taxes on essential goods to be factored in every year’s financial statements.
MP Aseka said that the purpose of the bill is to shield consumers from sudden increases in prices for basic commodities, especially at a time when Kenyans are grappling with tough economic times.
“The primary objective of price control is to shield consumers from sudden and excessive price increases, especially for items that are essential for daily life such as food, medicine, and energy,” Aseka stated.
Aseka added that by imposing limits on certain goods, governments can prevent profiteering and price gouging during times of volatility or supply disruptions. He argues that some retailers take advantage by hoarding the commodities to increase the market prices.
According to ASek, the bill seeks to promote fair competition within the market.
“This safeguards consumers’ purchasing power and contributes to social welfare by ensuring necessities remain within reach even for the most vulnerable members of society,” Aseka said.
“There is no producer who will want to continue with their business if the prices are lowered,” Budget and Appropriations Committee chair Ndindi Nyoro said during a committee meeting held on Thursday.
He further added that price controls can promote fair competition and prevent monopolistic practices in the market
On the other hand, Committee chair Ndindi Nyoro said all leaders are concerned with the high cost of living but the prices of some commodities are determined by demand and supply factors.