The government package was initiated to assist Fijian property owners whose homes were either damaged or destroyed by Tropical Cyclones (TC) Josie and Keni, in April this year. Those who qualify are provided cards topped up with $7,000 to purchase material for the repair of their homes and to replace lost or badly damaged possessions, from selected traders.
“The council is aware of cases where traders increased the price of goods after the initiative was rolled out, to make money off the misery of Fijians,” said Council chief executive officer, Premila Kumar.
“One disappointed complainant found a Homes-CARE initiative trader selling a 32-inch television screen for $712 while the same product was available for $499 with a non-Homes-CARE initiative trader.
“In another case, a complainant from the Western Division found a trader trying to take advantage of the Homes-CARE pay out by increasing the price of a bicycle from $329 to $594,” she added.
The Council plan name the traders involved in price gouging.
“These unscrupulous traders are not only profiting from the suffering of Fijians, they are also defrauding the Government of funds set aside to assist victims of natural disasters. The Council advises traders that the practise is not only considered exploitative but unethical and illegal.”
The Consumer Council is encouraging consumers to dial its toll-free number, 155, to lodge or report on Homes-CARE initiative traders increasing the price of goods.
It also notes that the registered Homes-CARE initiative vendors are GS Industrial Supplies, Autocare (Fiji) Limited, Kasabias Limited, Home & Living-Vinod Patel, Vinod Patel Complete Home & Building, Subrail’s, Lonta Manufacturers Ltd, Rups Investment Limited (Rups Big Bear), RB Patel Group Limited, Vision Investment Limited, Haroon’s Hardware, Rakiraki Hardware Limited, New World, Carpenter’s Hardware, Homemaker and RC Manubhai.
On May 4, the Minister for Women, Children & Poverty Alleviation’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Josefa Koroivueta confirmed that over 5000 Homes-CARE cards had been issued to people whose households items had been lost or damaged to flooding from the tropical cyclones.