The competition watchdog has created a new team to look out for price gouging and consumer rip offs as the economy faces a flood of insolvencies and massive diminution in competition.

About 10 staff at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have been redeployed to look out for businesses profiteering from shortages, scamming consumers or refusing to give refunds.

“We will scale this team up as needed,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims told The Australian on Sunday.

Mr Sims called out price gouging by petrol suppliers this week, many of whom hadn’t passed on the massive reduction in the global oil price to 18 year lows below US$25 a barrel, half the level of a month ago.

“I know it sounds silly but really what we got to do … is completely shun the people who are overcharging us,” he said. The average price of petrol at the pump is around $1.30 per litre, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, a decline of 12 per cent on the average of one month ago.

The Australian understands other federal agencies are considering restructuring their staff to contribute to the government’s response. The government has delayed the May budget until later in the year to allow Treasury to focus on the government’s response to the crisis.

Extracted from The Australian