Regulation of prices of essential commodities allowed during the emergency

Press release, 9 April 2020

Under the special urgency procedure, the Seimas adopted amendments to the Law on Civil Protection (draft No XIIIP-4661 (2)) to allow, if necessary during the emergency, to temporarily fix maximum prices for the most important goods and services, as well as impose other necessary restrictions on the sale of goods and the provision of services (e.g. number of units sold, temporary prohibitions on the export of goods from the Republic of Lithuania, etc.).

‘The State Consumer Rights Protection Authority is already receiving consumer inquiries about a possible increase in prices of products, especially about the increased prices of disinfectants, respirators and masks. Certain advertising creates panic and encourages the population to purchase, without a good reason, greater quantities of essential goods than necessary, thereby raising demand for specific goods on the market,’ said Elvinas Jankevičius, Minister of Justice, while presenting the new legal provisions.

At the moment, some Member States of the European Union have already taken similar measures. According to the initiators of the amendments, France has set the maximum price of disinfectants in order to prevent abuse; the Czech Republic has set the price of respirators; Romania, Cyprus and Spain have provided for price regulation in legislation; Poland, Hungary and Italy are monitoring the price level.

Pursuant to the new provisions, the Government Emergency Commission will have the right to draw up a list of essential goods and services and instruct the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority to monitor changes in prices and availability of these goods and services.

Upon establishing the shortage of goods or services essential for residents, institutions or economic entities in the national emergency situation and the abuse in setting the prices of goods by their producers or sellers or of services by their providers, the respective information will be passed on to the Government Emergency Commission entitled to recommend that the Government adopt a decision on regulating certain prices and imposing sale conditions or other restrictions. Before adopting the decision, the Government must consider the opinion submitted by the Competition Council.

‘In any event, measures, such as price regulation, regulation of quantities sold or export prohibition, should be taken only as a last resort,’ the explanatory note to the Law reads.

The abovementioned restrictions will have to be imposed in accordance with the principle of proportionality without prejudice to fair competition and equal treatment of economic operators with a maximum duration of restrictions not exceeding the duration of the emergency. Moreover, the restrictions will have to be lifted immediately after the reasons for their introduction cease to exist.

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