Price Gougers Will Soon Be Prosecuted!
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise is looking to crack down on price gougers. At a recent press conference held by the Joint Unions, the President of the Public Service Union of Belize (PSU), Dean Flowers, called out the government for its seemingly lackadaisical approach to tackling this issue that has been plaguing the market. The Minister of Agriculture, Jose Abelardo Mai, explained today that this issue will soon be addressed to the fullest extent with the introduction of an amendment bill at the next regular Sitting of the House.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “We had proposed in Cabinet the change or amendment to the legislation that’s my responsibility it’s my ministry. We have done that amendment. I have it on my desk now and I will move forward with it. We were hoping that the gouging would not have gotten so bad but as I reviewed the cost of living, the cost of goods globally and I note the the forecast for prices will not be good this year. This is global information that we are reviewing is that the price of food will continue to go up. Now it is unfortunate that certain businesses will use the opportunity to add more. I was in San Pedro for this conference and I got a call from one of my colleagues saying rice in San Pedro the price has gone up above the control price so I immediately called the director and I think he was in San Pedro yesterday working with his team but it is unfortunate that people will do this. And I was hoping that we didn’t have to reach to this but given the situation now we have to amend that act and so we’re prepared to do it I have the documents ready and I think that in the next House sitting, not this one but the next one we will pass that amendment bill and I’m certain that everybody will support it.”
Minister Mai says that while it is unfortunate that GOB needs to implement such stringent measures, it is important to keep business owners accountable. The policy will include the implementation of a ticketing system for each offence that is identified.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “The amendment bill speaks to ticketing the person, closing down the shop and making the public know through the media that this shop is gouging and so people will avoid it. I think if you only do that one time and they will drop their prices but what they’re doing is an abuse of the people out there. It’s not right and it has to be addressed definitely. The officer goes in and if the person is caught violating the regulations then that person is given a ticket per let’s say for every commodity that they found to be gouging it’s a ticket you know so it’s on an individual basis. If you do not have either your chalk board that says the price of rice will be this, the price of sugar should be this you don’t have it that is already one regulation you’re breaking and therefore you’ll be charged for that and then you close down the shop and you go pay your tickets and you don’t come back with your receipt you can’t open the building and we make an announcement of this shop gouging and so I think that will supposed to curb the gouging.”