Government Cracks Down on Price Violations: Fifty-Nine Businesses Ticketed for Overcharging on Controlled Goods
The Government, through its Supplies Control Unit (SCU) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, has issued tickets to fifty-nine businesses found violating regulations on price-controlled goods. A release from the ministry says that between September 1 and November 3, personnel had inspected 112 retail outlets across the country. Tickets were issued for several infractions, ranging from failure to display the price on goods as well as over-pricing of goods. Belize City saw the most infractions when it comes to over-pricing, specifically Ambergris Caye. Lennox Nicholson, the Director for the Supplies Control Unit says that the compliance situation in Ambergris Caye is dire and requires attention.
Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies Control Unit: “When it comes to the compliance situation particularly on the island of Ambergris Caye, San Pedro Town the compliance situation out there is dire. During our inspections of the 11 establishments we visited, we cited violations in all 11 establishments. The San Pedro and Caye Caulker but more so San Pedro, is the location in the country where the compliance situation is the absolute worst. And it requires our attention. And it is a place where we will do significant follow-up visits to bring a greater degree of compliance where San Pedro is concerned.”
Among those found violating the regulations were popular stores like Bosco and Lucky Star on Central American Boulevard. Interestingly, the main factor that contributes to the violation was “price gauging” by selling items individually instead of how they should be sold. For example, selling 1 single egg for 70 cents. This practice was mainly seen in rural areas and in the south side of Belize City. While price gauging is not illegal, it is still a violation. Nicholson spoke about the fines for the violations.
Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies Control Unit: “Each ticket that is issued carries a fine of $300, right? Per violation, okay? If payment is not made within the 15 days then that fine doubles. All the inspections that we do are done to the level where the procedures, the standard operating procedures are done in such a way, we operate on the assumption that we will need to defend the decision that we took or the findings that we made. Right? So in those instances the matter would end up before the magistrate’s court.”
A second round of inspections began on November 4, and is on-going. Results of this second round will be released in mid-January 2024.