Algeria submits price controls law to parliament

Algeria's government has submitted to parliament a draft law that will allow it to set price controls on all consumer goods, the trade minister said.

Algeria submits price controls law to parliament

 

Algeria's government has submitted to parliament a draft law that will allow it to set price controls on all consumer goods and services as part of a campaign to curb inflation, the trade minister said.

The planned price controls are the latest in a series of measures increasing the state's role in energy exporter Algeria's economy, where sharp rises in food prices have helped fuel strikes and public unrest.

The draft amendments to Algeria's competition law will widen the government's scope to set price ceilings and establish tougher penalties for traders who charge over that price, said Trade Minister Mustapha Benbada.

"Our goal is to secure control of the market in the area of production, import and retail without causing prejudice to the freedom of trade," he said on Tuesday when he presented the draft to parliament.

He blamed speculators for driving up prices.

"This (the draft) is a legal framework that will create competitiveness and guarantee transparency and fairness in business transactions," he said. "We want to protect our economy and the purchasing power of citizens."

Parliament will vote on the draft law within the next month, lawmakers said. Algeria's legislature is dominated by parties loyal to the government and it is rare for it to block laws.

Algerian consumer price inflation stood at 5.7 percent last year against 4.4 percent in 2008. But prices for some food items have registered double-digit increases.

 

Government intervention

The law now in force limits price controls to "strategic items". But the draft will pave the way for the government to control the prices of all goods and services, the minister said.

The north African country subsidies several consumer items including sugar, milk, water, petrol, diesel and flour.

Algerian officials said in February they were planning price controls on some consumer goods but until now they had not released any details.

Analysts and business leaders say the Algerian government has been back-tracking from its commitment to a market economy in the past few months and taking a more interventionist role, especially on foreign investment.

They cite the case of Egyptian mobile phone operator Orascom Telecom which is in talks to sell its profitable Algerian unit to the state after it was hit with tax demands.

The government has also barred banks from issuing consumer loans, capped foreign ownership of local businesses and imposed restrictions on imports.

Officials say they have a duty to protect the national economy from foreign exploitation and that the measures they have adopted are no different from those in in other countries.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Haziran 2010, 21:22
YORUM EKLE