Price Gouging Task Force Gears Up for Store Price Monitoring
Members of the Price Gouging Task Force will be out later this week to begin monitoring the store prices. The move came about following countless reports of illegal price hikes at retail stores. Back in March this year, the government tabled amendments to the Supplies Control Bill that will give teeth to the task force. Any store owner found guilty of price gouging will be ticketed with repeated offences possibly leading to a shut down. According to Minister of Enterprise, Jose Abelardo Mai, told Love News that the tickets should be Wednesday, and the task force will being their rounds on Thursday.
Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “They are only a bunch of items that are regulated. There are price regulated and price controlled goods, two schedules. We just placed 33 more products on the price regulated list remember? And now this week Wednesday, I think, the tickets are being printed and given to us now as Suppliess Control Unit and by Thursday we will be visiting the stores and issuing tickets where the store owners are found to be breaking the law. We’ve given them enough warning, we’ve met with them, it’s on the radio, it’s on the TV. I think by Thursday they will start issuing tickets and they’ll be getting heavy tickets. But fruits and vegetables are not regulated. They’re not. Well, the regulation is simple. We are also engaging with the public service. Remember, the Public Service Union had asked us, or had volunteered that they are willing to help us issue tickets. We will begin with our staff as Price Control has a small staff. We are going to employ five more people in the next week or so and we are working together with the Public Service Union they will also have people with us working. And so I think that it’s very interesting to see what will happen the first week when we start issuing tickets.”
With the wheels in motion to try and stop the illegal hike in groceries and dry goods, the Leader of the Opposition is cynical and insistent that the government is not doing enough. Moses Shyne Barrow held his weekly briefing today where he spoke on this topic, calling the Minister of Human Development, ‘a waste of time’ – which he has claimed as his new catchphrase.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “The catchphrase is waste of time. Minister of Human Development, waste of time. PUP cabinet, waste of time. So two and a half years later, you come up with a cooperative. And that is what is being studied, being examined. Again, a heartless, compassionless, government. What is happening in the meantime? People are getting less, paying more. Some people are not getting at all. And that is driving a lot of the crime that they would like to solve because people are desperate. And when people would rather be dead than suffer through poverty that is why the value of life means nothing. So they can’t be serious about solving crime and use the social fabric argument as far as addressing poverty, addressing education, and not be serious about it. Three years later now you’re talking about a cooperative? What’s the solution to energy? Minister of Human Development, Waste of Time Minister Dolores, I really believe that she’s disconnected and she doesn’t care about the people that are suffering in this country. She doesn’t know what it’s like. She comes from a privileged background. You could argue that I come from one too. I would debate that I grew up in Brooklyn. I grew up in Curacao* Street with my mom. I love my father but I didn’t grow up with my father. I grew up in a single-parent household so I know what it’s like to drink water to go to sleep. I know what it’s like to put condensed milk on sliced bread and that is food. That is how I grew up.”
In a joint meeting with the unions, the Public Service Union (PSU) had agreed to be a part of the Special Task Force on price gouging. PSU President, Dean Flowers, was a party to that meeting where it was confirmed that public officers will have the authority to ticket business establishments if they are able to identify areas of price gouging.