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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — The Public Prosecution has warned of SR10 million fine on those who are exploiting the extraordinarty circumstances and manipulating prices of services and goods.
It said it was illegal for establishments practicing commercial, industrial or agricultural activities or providing services to violate the rules governing competition, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted Public Prosecution as stressing on Monday.
It asserted that such establishments try to limit or curb competition in the market by exploiting time-related or extraordinary circumstances or global events to give the misleading and false impression that there are shortages in goods and services. Their ultimate goal is to manipulate the prices by raising or lowering them.
In this regard, the local markets had recently witnessed a huge demand for medical necessities, leading to a rise in prices, apart from people flocking to shops and supermarkets simultaneously with the implementation of precautionary measures to counter novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to Article 1 of the Competition Regulation, the forms of exploitation include selling the commodity or service at less than the total cost price, with the intention of causing firms to exit the market or incur great losses; or hinder the likely entry of certain establishments; fix the prices or set the conditions for the resale of commodities or services; increase or decrease the quantities of available products with the intention of controlling the prices. In other words, they try to create a fake abundance or shortage.
Other malpractices include selling a commodity or service on condition that the buyer bears certain commitments or the buyer is compelled to accept other commodities or services, which due to their nature or commercial use, are not related to the commodity or service in question in the contract.
Article 19 of the Competition Regulation specifies penalties for violating any of the rules of Article 1. The penalty for violation is a fine equivalent to 10 percent of the total value of annual sales of the commodity in question, such that it does not exceed SR10 million when it is impossible to estimate the annual sales. In this case, the penalty will be replaced by a fine not exceeding threefold the profits made by the violator.
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