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Exploitation of kaunjika vendors worries CFTC

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HAS INTERVENED—Kaphale

The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has said it has noted with great concern that some dishonest wholesalers are engaging in deceptive and abusive trading practices in the supply of imported second hand products commonly known as kaunjika.

CFTC has since warned dishonest wholesalers that it will take drastic action against anyone found engaging in deceptive or abusive trade practices against SMEs.

CFTC Executive Director, James Kaphale, said in a statement on Tuesday that an inspection his organisation conducted on market for second hand clothes and shoes to assess compliance with competition and fair trading laws, revealed rampant economic exploitation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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According to Kaphale, the economic exploitation of the SMEs manifested itself through numerous deceÅptive and abusive practices perpetrated by wholesalers, resulting into unfair conditions of trade.

“Bales expected to weigh 25kg and 65kg were weighing far less than 20kg and 55 kg respectively in violation of Section 43(1)(d) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act (CFTA).

“Bales had no price labels; no weight labels; no content labels or description and no quality category labels. This made it difficult for SMEs to make informed purchase decisions,”Kaphale says.

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The CFTC chief adds that some wholesalers are not issuing receipts as evidence of purchase in violation of Section 36 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

He added that some wholesalers were denying SMEs an opportunity to choose bales of their choice in violation of the Sale of Goods Act which provides for the right to examine the quality and quantity of goods.

The inspection further revealed that some wholesalers were refusing to supply bales of second hand products to certain SMEs or class of SMEs.

Kaphale said the economic protection of SMEs is consistent with three of the primary objectives of the Competition and Fair Trading Act, which are: to strengthen efficiency in the production and distribution of goods and services; to secure the best possible conditions for the freedom of trade; and to facilitate the expansion of the entrepreneurship base.

“The conduct of supplying underweight products and the failure to supply products with sufficient information constitutes serious infringement of the CFTA. Specifically, Section 43(1)(d) of the CFTA, makes it an offence for any trader to engage in conduct likely to mislead the public as to the nature, price, characteristics, suitability for a given purpose, quantity or quality of any products or services.

“Likewise, the refusal to sell to certain SMEs or a class of SMEs and the refusal to allow the freedom of choice, infringes on the rights of SMEs to participate fairly in the national economy. It also constitutes unreasonable, abusive terms and conditions of trade in gross violation of Section 43(1)(g) of the CFTA,”Kaphale said.

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