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Kirchnerism submits bill to fight speculation

Political groups have been acting as price vigilantes in supermarkets throughout the country in order to ensure that prices and product supply are stable in the implementation of the government “Price Watch” programme.
Lawmaker Héctor Recalde gains support on tighter supermarket price controls

A ruling party lawmaker will be introducing into Congress a bill aimed at reinforcing current legislation surrounding pricing and consumer protection, as the government’s “Price Watch” programme continues down its topsy-turvey path to implimentation at supermarkets and the issue of fines for speculative commercial activity rolls on. The measures, if passed, would include greater financial penalties for offenders.

Victory Front (FpV) congressman Héctor Recalde announced yesterday his plans to push a bill into Congress that would attempt to “ensure stability, fairness and predictability about prices,” with ammendements to the Supply, Fair Trade and Consumer Defence laws.

In order to achieve the “full effect of the penalties enshrined in those rules” his bill would push for the “consistency in the procedural aspect of the three laws, the reduction of time limits,” as well as “the implimentation of minimum and maximum fines, ranging from 5,000 pesos to 10 million,” the lawmaker described in a press release.

“It generates a strong deterrent effect for those people or entities that try to undertake countermanoeuvres against the common good, while also acting as an efficient tool for responding to situations that require fast-acting but non-urgent measures,” he said.

The bill seemed to move against recent price speculation at a retail level, which Recalde eventually attempted to address when he specified such manoeuvres as “shortages, hoarding or speculation.”

The roll out of the government’s “Price Watch” programme has been hindered in part by the steep January devaluation of the peso, which cast a shadow of doubt on the real value of products and saw some players in the supply chain of supermarket goods increasing prices on goods with little to no imported components.

And while the stabilization of the exchange rate at around 8 pesos over the past few weeks has subdued some of the response to the devaluation, upcoming wage negotiations and the INDEC statistics bureau last week announcing its new consumer price index with monthly inflation at 3.7 percent, have meant that the uncertaintity hovering over the ongoing implimentation of “Price Watch” shows no sign of clearing any time soon.

Recalde’s plan to push the FpV’s majority in Congress to legislate against any business activity that contradicts the government’s measure, or undermines consumer confidence in such a context of uncertaintity, would be the first legislative action the ruling party takes on pricing after weeks of back-and-forths between the government and factions of the private sector.

Already in some provinces across the country, consumer protection units have discovered stores that are signatorees of the government-led price deal not complying with pricing requirements.

The Pampa province was the latest to join that list, with the provinicial government announcing it had found three large supermarket chains — La Anónima, Carrefour and Chango Más — were not stocking products like yerba mate and oil.

Herald with DyN, Télam

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