Under the corona crisis, the Norwegian Competition Authority has received information about disproportionately large price increases on certain products. The Authority is concerned about this development and issues a warning to suppliers not to exploit the situation.
– The crisis we are experiencing now is extreme. It is important that we as a society stand together in order to solve the challenges we are facing. Most companies are striving to do the right thing under difficult conditions. However, there are indications that some businesses may take advantage of the situation by offering much needed and necessary products at unreasonable prices. This applies, for example, to face masks, which are now offered for sale at significantly higher prices than normal, says Director General Lars Sørgard.
Markets must also function during the crisis
It is important to maintain well-functioning markets during and after the crisis to protect the interests of consumers.
– Disproportionately large price increases for individual products will not be accepted. All economic operators must take that into account. Increased prices on some products as a result of the current situation are to some extent inevitable for various reasons. However, unreasonable pricing is something else, says Sørgard.
May apply the Price Policy Act
In times of crises, the Competition Authority may apply the Price Policy Act. That Act prohibits unreasonable prices and business terms, and allows the Authority to regulate prices of important goods and services.
– The Price Policy Act is a tool that we are reluctant to use, as free competition is best for society and consumers. If necessary to prevent that someone takes advantage of the crisis by charging unreasonable prices for important goods and services, we will use our powers under the Act. The Competition Authority is monitoring the situation, and which instruments that need to be used will be subject to an ongoing assessment on our part, says Sørgard.
Lars Sørgard, Director General
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