What redress for those who pay the price for rip-offs? - Times LIVE
   
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Thu Feb 23 18:18:35 SAST 2017

What redress for those who pay the price for rip-offs?

The Times Editorial | 2017-02-17 07:21:50.0

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If there were any doubts that the South African consumer has been routinely ripped off by corporate South Africa the revelations of the last week will lay them to rest.

There can be little doubt now that Eskom baldly lied to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa in justifying its arguments for crippling power price increases in the late 2000s.

Evidence has been produced by The Times and the Financial Mail showing clear corruption in the power utility which led to inflated coal prices, among other dubious deals. These contributed to the price hikes which hit every South African's pocket and the economy hard.

Another example came in Wednesday's high court award of a R1.16-billion payment in favour of Comair against SAA for an anti-competitive travel-agent incentive scheme. The payments to travel agents meant that travellers were funnelled to SAA instead of to competitors and they thus lost out on cheaper ticket prices.

Then came the news that major South African and international banks are to be hauled before the competition tribunal for alleged price-fixing and collusion on foreign exchange transactions. This practice could have tangibly hurt the economy as a whole.

These examples provide ample arguments for the continued - and possibly heightened - need for oversight and a degree of regulation in the economy. They are also a gift wrapped up in ribbon for those who argue for radical economic transformation and who will seize on the revelations to further their agenda.

But as shocking as they are, they are also notably of past practice, in some cases going back nearly 20 years, and should be viewed soberly in that context. There's no doubt the competition commission is an effective agent in bringing these rogues to book, but what will be the redress for consumers who continue to pay the price?

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