11 January 2018

Cameroon: Necessary Permanent Surveillance

It is unbelievable that vendors can decide on their own, without any justification, to hike the prices of products they sell. But this is exactly what some bartenders and dealers in soft and alcoholic drinks have been doing for the past days. Field reports say some of them unilaterally increased the prices of the products, obviously to reap from where they have not sown.

For, neither producers have increased wholesale prices nor the State taxes on the products. Without necessarily carrying out a scientific survey to decipher the push factor behind such an irresponsible business venture, one goes away with the feeling that perpetrators are certainly capitalising on the apparent naivety of consumers to hike the prices and harvest more from their sales.

Inasmuch as every business operates to maximise as much profits as possible, doing so at all cost is, to say the least, irresponsible.

Someone somewhere may argue that they are simply benefitting from the market forces of demand and supply; judging from the drinking capacity of Cameroonians, to make quick returns. Granted; but every business, besides its interest-driven policy, shouldn't forget its social responsibilities towards the customers.

It doesn't require a soothsayer to understand that the purchasing power of Cameroonians is nose-diving. Those with gainful employment are few and so carry the burden of dozen others. Coming up with anything that further drains their meagre income; especially unjustifiably, is suicidal.

Cognisant of the fact that money blinds and any gospel being preached for a show of responsibility on consumers by the businessmen could simply be done in the wilderness, permanent surveillance could be one of the surest ways to bail the population out of the grip of the shylock dealers in soft and alcoholic drinks.

This requires the services of all. The population should question hikes in prices of products served them. Consumer associations need to effectively work for the plight of the population.

Clear cut mechanisms ought to be put in place for victims to denounce acts of irresponsibility perpetrated on them by get-rich-quick businessmen. Authorities, notably officials of the Control Brigade for Fraud of the Ministry of Trade, shouldn't be seen to be leaving the helpless population at the mercy of people whose first and last goals are gain; even if it means doing the bad and ugly.

All these actors can and should, as a matter of fact, work in synergy to make the market conducive for all and sundry.

Justified price hikes are announced, the population amply sensitised on their raison d'être and specific timeframes given for its take-off. Obviously, that has not been the case with what the population of Yaounde and certainly others elsewhere, have been experiencing in recent days.

Times are hard! Yes! But business people should not be left to ruin the shoulders of consumers in their quest for survival. There should be equilibrium and permanent surveillance could produce the magic wand to strike this much-needed balance.


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