A government agency should be tasked with monitoring price increases across utility and service providers to ensure fairness and transparency for consumers, according to Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan.
Deputy Durkan said: “Many people are struggling with the impact of rising prices, not just on energy costs, but also on utility and grocery bills.
“Inflation in Ireland is now at a high, at over 8 per cent, which has been driven by a sharp rise in wholesale energy, food and other commodity prices since the onset of the war in Ukraine.
“The Government have introduced a suite of measures worth €2.4 billion to help households and business offset these prices and there has been an acknowledgement that we can and must do more to address the high cost of living in the current period of high inflation.
“There is a possibility that prices could rise further, and this is of huge concern to people. We need to be able to identify the cause of this, and instances where there is a legitimate need for prices to be passed on to the general public, or whether some companies are engaging in the dubious practice of price gouging.
“I believe in the current climate, we require a particular unit within a Government department to monitor prices set by utility and other service providers to ensure companies aren’t abusing their market position through excessive pricing.
“I raised this matter in In the Dáil with my colleague, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, as his Department has responsibility for consumer affairs and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
“The Tánaiste said he was open to the establishment of a unit to monitor prices and confirmed that he would talk to his officials about it.
“There are many factors that are driving inflation, but we need to have a mechanism to identify cases where this is happening as a result of price gouging or profiteering by certain retailers or suppliers,” Deputy Durkan concluded.