Amid Corona virus scare, cartel accused of profiteering from facemasks

CNN Indonesia – February 5, 2020
Woman puts on face mark next to Coronoa virus public health poster (CNN)

Jakarta – The secretary general of the Pramuka Market Pharmacy Traders Association (HPFPP), Yoyon, says that there are manipulations by a cartel related to the price hike and scarcity of facemasks at the Pramuka Market in Matraman, Jakarta. The cartel is taking advantage of the Corona virus scare.

“There is a cartel which is manipulating facemask prices”, Yoyon told CNN Indonesia at the Pramuka Market on Tuesday February 4.

The prices of facemasks at the Pramuka Market have risen dramatically in concert with the spread of the Corona virus. According to CNN Indonesia’s observations at the market, the prices of type N95 masks have risen drastically.

This type of mask is much sought after because of its quality and because it is better screening out pollutants and viruses. A trader at the Pramuka Market said that because of high demand, the price has also risen.

Normally one box of N95 type masks sell for between 195,000 and 200,000 rupiah. They are currently being sold at 1.7 million rupiah for a box or 100,000 rupiah per mask.

Yoyon admits to being shocked but the sharp rise in prices of masks over the last two weeks at Pramuka Market. A number of customers as well as traders have complained to him about the price.

He suspects that there is a party which is manipulating the prices and facemask stock so that several of the kiosks at the market are empty and the flow on effect has been a jump in prices. “They’re reaping a profit from this disaster”, he said.

Yoyon also appealed to the government to start conducting surprise checks at the Pramuka Market as soon as possible because the high prices have already triggered anxiety among customers.

“We appeal to the government to conduct surprise checks”, he said. (khr/wis)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Himpunan Pedagang Duga Kartel Masker Manfaatkan Wabah Corona”.]