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CFTC warns against unfair maize trading

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The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has warned maize traders in the country that withholding of goods for speculative purposes is prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence under the Competition and Fair Trading Act (CFTA) and Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

In a statement released Friday, the Commission also said it is an offence for traders to use incorrect measures or weights or any other forms of misrepresentations.

The statement continues to say Section 43 of the CFTA prohibits traders from charging excessive prices which are exploitative to consumers.

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“The CFTC would, therefore, like to warn all maize traders in the country to cease and desist from engaging in the above conducts. Any trader found engaging in these practices commits an offence which attracts a fine of MK500,000 or an amount equivalent to the financial gains of the offence, whichever is higher, and five-year imprisonment upon conviction,” CFTC Executive Director, Charlotte Wezzie Malonda, who signed the statement, said.

According to the statement, in pursuit of its mandate of protecting consumers from unfair trading practices, CFTC has been undertaking inspections in maize selling points in some districts.

“During the inspections, the Commission visited privately owned and Admarc [Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation of Malawi] warehouses as part of a monitoring exercise for the availability and accessibility of maize to consumers. Over the past two days, our inspectors have visited maize selling points and warehouses in Lilongwe, Mchinji and Dowa districts.

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“Through the inspections, we have noted with concern that some traders are engaged in conducts that clearly violate the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Protection Act,” Malonda said.

Some of the unfair trading practices that have been reported include withholding maize supplies or hoarding with the intention of triggering a price increase and the use of incorrect measures or weights with a view to deceive or mislead consumers.

Others are false representation regarding the weight of maize sold to consumers and unconscionable conduct through charging excessive prices.

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