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Gov’t freezes basic commodity prices and export of wheat and wheat flour

The government Monday night approved a decree putting a freeze on a broad range of basic commodity prices—bread, salt, oil, dairy, eggs, flour, meat, pasta, medicines, disinfectants—triggering consumer protections to prevent price gouging amid the global coronavirus outbreak the WHO has declared a pandemic.

Skopje, 17 March 2020 (MIA) — The government Monday night approved a decree putting a freeze on a broad range of basic commodity prices—bread, salt, oil, dairy, eggs, flour, meat, pasta, medicines, disinfectants—triggering consumer protections to prevent price gouging amid the global coronavirus outbreak the WHO has declared a pandemic.

The decree will come into force a day after it is published in the Official Gazette, according to state protocol.

The State Market Inspectorate will do emergency inspections of warehouses and distribution centers to determine if businesses are secretly stockpiling supplies of basic foodstuffs and to supervise the situation from the point of view of inappropriate increasing of prices.

Every three days, the inspectorate is to brief the government on current developments.

During the session, the government also adopted a proposal to ban the export of wheat and wheat flour to all countries until further notice.

The Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Customs Administration are to take on all necessary actions to implement this measure.

The government tasked the Customs Administration, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, to monitor export trends, especially regarding sunflower oil, rice, confectionery, and baked goods (such as biscuits, pastries, pasta, etc.).

It also recommended the milling industry take into consideration the duty-free quota on wheat imports of 80,000 tons from WTO member states.

In its conclusions, the government tasked the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Agency for Commodity Reserves—together with the milling industry—to immediately determine the current state of wheat and wheat flour reserves.

After the agency takes inventory of reserves and forwards it to the government specifying the kind of available goods and quantities; it needs to produce, within the next five days, a list of foods the import of which would be subject to possible government intervention.

The Ministry of Economy was also ordered to forward to the government as soon as possible a proposal to remove 100% of customs duties for importing: wheat flour, sunflower oil, cane sugar, soap, detergent, clothes, diapers for children and adults, tissues, paper towels, masks with built-in filters, specific surgical supplies such as paper suits and paper masks, rubber safety suits, rubber gloves, bleach and similar disinfectants, rubbing alcohol, and protective eyeglasses. mr/

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