After failing to secure voluntary compliance from the producers, the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Monday slashed prices of cooking oil to reflect normal prices after the removal of 16.5 percent value added tax (VAT) on the commodity.
The reduction of prices follows a final warning the ministry issued to what they called perpetrators on the final call to all edible cooking oil suppliers to reduce prices following the removal of VAT by the Malawi Government.
Apparently, the producers of cooking oil have been citing VAT as the major contributing factor the skyrocketing prices of the commodity on the market.
It was, however, baffling to note that the prices kept on rising even after the government removed the said tax.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mark Katsonga Phiri, says the decision to slash the prices follows the agreement reached during a consultative and interface meeting with the cooking oil producing industry and retailers held on 24th February and 5th May, 2022 amid several communication exchanges in between.
Phiri says the ministry, in collaboration with Competition and Fair Trading Commission ( CFTC), will be conducting regular inspections, and will take action against all traders that are still charging VAT on cooking oil or engaging in price gouging.
“The ministry is further issuing a stern warning to all unscrupulous traders to immediately cease and desist from this malpractice and ensure that cooking oil is sold at the above agreed recommended prices,” he says in the statement.
Katsonga Phiri has since advised consumers and the general public to play a watchdog role and report any aspects of price gouging and unfair trading practice to the ministry.
However, spot checks in major chain stores such as Chipiku Plus showed that cooking oil has disappeared from the shelves.