Cooking Gas – Basic Essential
August 6, 2020
The prices for the cooking gas is fixed and declared by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission throughout the Fijian economy into four (4) schedules for LPG depending on the geographical spread of urban and rural areas. The prices set out in the schedule are the maximum retail and wholesale prices, as the case may be, at which the goods mentioned therein may be sold in the area as specified in the schedule.
With the 4.5kg, 12kg and 13kg gas cylinders being widely used and purchased in Fiji for domestic use, the Consumer Council of Fiji is urging consumers to be aware of and exercise their rights and responsibilities when buying the product.
Since 2015 until date the Council has received 110 complaints on issues regarding LPG. Apart from price control violation, the Council received other complaints and concerns of various natures ranging from damaged or defective cylinders, leakage, traders hoarding gas to sell only after price increase comes into effect, not providing receipts to consumers, volume of gas seemingly less in a cylinder and depriving them of choice by asking consumers to buy items worth a certain amount in order to purchase gas cylinders.
A recent complaint was received from the Northern Division whereby a consumer was refused exchange of 4.5kg cylinder for a 12kg refilled cylinder by a supermarket in Savusavu. The consumer later managed to acquire a refilled 13kg cylinder from another retail agent however raised the issue encountered at the first Supermarket with the Council. The Supermarket had claimed that they could not exchange the 4.5kg for because the stock would not tally with the supplier.
Fiji Gas, who are the sole suppliers of LPG in the Northern Division, clarified that cylinders were interchangeable regardless of size or weight. There is no charge when cylinders are interchanged. Consumers only pay for the content of the cylinder.
However, if a consumer is not in possession of a cylinder and wishes to purchase a new one, they must pay the cylinder usage fee and the price of gas. Given the current prices the costs of obtaining new cylinder in urban areas would be:
4.5kg – $65.40 VIP + $11.03 (regulated LPG price as of June 2020) = $76.43
12kg – $65.40 VIP + $29.41 (regulated LPG price as of June 2020) = $94.81
13kg – $65.40 VIP + $31.86 (regulated LPG price as of June 2020) = $97.26
The cylinder usage fee is standard regardless of the volume which is why they are interchangeable.
It must also be noted that for the Northern Division, only the 4.5Kg and 13Kg cylinders are sold to consumers. This is a strategic move by the company to ensure consumers have access to cooking gas for at least another week as agents are distantly located and they need to ensure that supply is maintained for their customers in these locations.
The introduction of the 4.5kg cylinder was considered beneficial for small families or for those on a tight budget and is allowed to be interchanged for larger volumes depending on the need or finances of each consumer. Traders therefore, cannot use the excuse of tallying their stock to the supplier to refuse exchange.
While it is encouraging to see some traders, who have followed the law and have charged correct prices, there are those who continue to defy the law and charge above regulated prices. Consumers are therefore urged to:
- Keep abreast of the prices of LPG to ensure they are charged the correct price.
- Understand that the three volumes of cooking gas are interchangeable and therefore traders cannot deprive consumers from their right to choose.
- Check the cylinders properly before purchase to ensure you are not going home with the wrong volume, especially when dealing with the 12kg and 13kg cylinder.
Consumers with issues relevant to their purchases are urged to contact the Council on its toll free National Consumer Helpline number 155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any complaints or advice.