OAG: Report cases of price gouging

Price freeze still in effect

The Office of the Attorney General urged residents yesterday to report price gouging, or the illegal act of increasing the prices of goods, based solely on shortages caused by a natural disaster or any other emergency—in this case, a typhoon.

In a statement yesterday, the OAG emphasized that the price freeze arising from Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation in October 2018 is still in effect for the CNMI.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres first declared the price freeze on Oct. 27, 2018. It has been renewed monthly since then, and the OAG is reminding residents that it was just renewed last Sept. 20, 2019.

“The price freeze is in effect until rescinded, or until the declaration of emergency or disaster are terminated, whichever occurs first,” the OAG said.

The prices of gas, kerosene, diesel fuel, natural gas, and all other chemical fuels, whether gaseous, liquid, or solid are included in the price freeze, including all types of food, water, beverages, and ice; clothing; flashlights, lamps, lanterns, candles, light bulbs, and other means of illumination; generators, cables, wires, electrical batteries, and other similar equipment for the generation or transmission of electrical power; all appliances for storage and preparation of food; tools typically used for construction, ground clearing, or home repairs, including electrically, chemically, and manually powered tools; all bedding items; and housing rentals including apartments and condominiums.

“If you have information about price gouging, you should submit a written complaint to the OAG along with copies of all receipts, invoices, or other documents associated with the complained transaction,” the OAG said.

Complaint forms may be obtained at www.cnmioag.org.

Price gouging is illegal under the Consumer Protection Act.

The statement from the OAG came as reports circulated on social media that a hardware store suddenly increased its price of plywood from $32 to $49 apiece. The material is commonly used as typhoon shutters.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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