Civil Society Network (CSN) is proposing a system of price regulation on prices for essential products and services during the corona crisis that has gripped the world, both in the private as well in the public sectors.
Because of panic buying, there is a resultant inflation on products that is straining the wellbeing of many people during this difficult time. The Government should intervene, as has already been the case outside of Malta, to stand up for the smaller citizens who are at a higher risk of being targeting by the exploitative pricing of certain opportunists ready to profit from this exceptional time.
A.1 Price Controls on Essential Products
Among others, CSN is calling for the regulation of the prices of all medicines, medical masks, sanitizers, toilet paper, and essential food items and drink like rice, flour, fruit, vegetables, milk and water. As a general rule, prices should revert to the market price as of the 8th of March 2020.
A.2 Reduction and Control of Water and Electricity Bills
Apart from this, controls on water and electricity prices are warranted. Once that there is a global slump in gas prices, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a reduction or at least a hedging measure for water and electricity prices during these months.
These proposals are there to help primarily the elderly who are living on the same pension despite a rise in prices, as well as those families who have been hit by redundancy as a result of COVID-19 and other vulnerable people who cannot keep up with the price increases. More than this, there is a pressing need for people to have more cash at hand so that Malta can emerge stronger after the economic crisis that it is facing.
B.1 Task Force for the Prices of Essential Goods
Controls on prices will be similar to what is already happening in other European countries, among which is France. For prices to be monitored, there should be a special task force appointed by the Government which can approve price changes. In moments of emergency such as this, there is already a legal basis for such measures to be actualised, which will be enforced for a limited time, and which can be revised from time to time or when a request is made by importers, distributers, or groups of undertakings to change the concerned prices.