Government Training Individuals to Monitor Price Gouging in Belize
Another issue discussed by Prime Minister Briceno whilst on Vibes Media this morning, had to do with price gouging. According to the PM, several persons are undergoing training which will qualify them to monitor retailers and any attempts at price gouging. He noted that while the government cannot undo or fix the global inflations, they are working locally to ease the pressures on consumers.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Worldwide inflation is a massive problem but our inflation is imported. It’s imported mostly from the United States because our dollar is tied to the US dollar. So inflation over there affects them it affects us almost similarly. So our inflation rate has been about 6% but what has been happening there’s this concern that there seems to be some issue with price gauging, whereby we have unscrupulous business persons that, you know, if the pound of rice or beans or whatever it is you know a household product were to go up by 50 cents and raise it by 150 and that has been the challenge. And when they do that, because now they affect especially poor people. And many of them don’t even have a conscience when it comes to that. So now what we’re doing now is now, just yesterday we agreed to hire six more price inspectors. We agreed that we’re going to, we’re changing and passing an SI where we’re going to be training some public officers since they have offered to help, the JP association have offered to help so we’re going to train them so that they could go to these businesses and if they see any case of price gouging they could give them a ticket. So they don’t have to go to court, you give them a ticket, you fine them like a traffic ticket you either pay it or you go to court. So we are taking action. Now we have increased five things I think we’re at about seven items, now we’re taking up to 40. Of course, some people in the business community are concerned and I understand and we have to work with them to ensure that it’s something that’s workable. And now these people will be out there checking on these places. We’re setting up a hotline and we’re encouraging people if you see if this product is being sold too expensive or if on the shelf you have it for two dollars and then they like to do that in some of these stores, and when you go pay it’s three dollars, that’s illegal. And so we want to encourage you to take a picture, WhatsApp it to price control.”