Coronavirus: Chamber calls on businesses to act ethically as prices on essentials shoot up

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has called on the business community to limit the raise of market-pricing amidst coronavirus fears

File photo
File photo

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has called on the business community to act ethically on market-pricing amidst coronavirus fears, especially on basic items.

Sanitary items like wipes, masks, hand sanitisers and other materials in high demand have seen a price hike in recent days.

“At a time of national pressure on all aspects of life, the business community has an important role to play. While safeguarding our operations, we must also act responsibly towards our patrons,” David Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber, said.

The Chamber has called on businesses to practice the highest ethical standards when it comes to pricing.

In recent weeks, a Facebook group run by William Hawk, real name Illya Tretyak, a blockchain entrepreneur has been accused of exploiting the influenza scare for personal gain. A website promoted on the page was selling face masks at €160 for a pack of five.

When Italy started reporting the first deaths, misinformed posts led others to storm local supermarkets and stockpile on non-perishables and other foodstuffs. People on social media shared pictures of empty shelves.

“The Malta Chamber prides itself in acting according to the highest ethical standards, and this should be no exception,” Xuereb said., adding that the Chamber is aware that at a time of heightened demand, the rules of the market can easily provide for a price increase, it said.

While encouraging operators in the supply chain to act responsibly, The Malta Chamber is making itself available to assist the competent authority, the MCCAA, on any complaint, on a case-by-case basis.

Major retail websites like Amazon have seen a number of "bad actors" exploiting coronavirus fears by raising prices of masks and sanitisers by as much as 2,000%, the website said in a statement.