The Ministry of Trade and Industry has once again reiterated the call cautioning retailers and wholesalers against taking advantage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to increase prices of products. Fresh announcement made on Sunday, March 22, as the government moves to protect consumers against traders and other businesses that deliberately hike the prices of food, sanitation and pharmaceutical commodities. The demand for these products has recently gone up following preventive measures announced by the Government. Among the measures includes a two-week lockdown that prevents people from making unnecessary movements. A few days ago, the ministry launched inspections at various markets and shops around the country and it has been found that some traders are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak to unlawfully price hikes for essential products. The ministry has directed retailers and wholesalers to avoid increasing prices of goods, whether imported or domestically produced, display prices on commodities so that they are visible to consumers and avoid issuing invoices that do not match the amount received. A new statement urges businesses to refrain from the use of substandard weighing scales and from selling expired goods as well as avoid interfering with the work of trade inspectors. The ministry publicly posted a list of a variety of food products and sanitary essentials as well as their prices and qualities, which it said should be respected across different markets and shops. This includes rice, beans, maize flour, cooking oil, cassava flour, Irish potato, green banana, sugar, gloves, face masks, and hand sanitizers, among others. The statement also called for consumers to provide information on abnormal price increases to enable the ministry to take necessary measures. “Anyone found to be in violation of this announcement shall be punished in accordance with the law,” the statement reads in part. At least 24 businesses were fined worth Rwf1.68 million and while others were temporarily suspended after they were found to have inflated prices of foodstuffs and other essential products.