‘I’ll expose them’
Inniss threatens to shame price gougers
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss is threatening to name and shame price gougers.
Inniss today warned that he would “expose” any members of the private sector who might be tempted to abuse the two per cent National Social Responsibility Levy announced in last week’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY at the Hilton Barbados Resort, the Member of Parliament for St James South warned members of the private sector that he was prepared “to expose in a very public manner any entity or any individual that is engaged in price gouging”.
“I am not waiting on any legislation or any bureaucracy. I will tell the country who they are; give the country the evidence and tell Barbadians they should go elsewhere and buy their goods. I do not believe there is any need for new legislation or regulations. We have an educated population and I have faith that Barbadians would certainly respond appropriately to any unfair increases in prices around the country,” the outspoken minister said.
When Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced the levy, he said it was to finance health care and sanitation.
Inniss today criticized those who looked at “the darker side” of such Government initiatives, insisting that Government needed to find ways to help address the spiralling cost of social services, health care and environmental related issues.
While stating he would not bury his head in the sand and pretend the new tax would not result in an increase in costs, the minister urged Barbadians to focus the “conversation on addressing the cost of social services in the country”.
“Let us not fool ourselves. Barbados is one of the few places in the world that provides such a range of public health services that are free to the end user. These things cost money. Barbados is a society that still provides a myriad of services. Our educational system costs very little to the end user,” he argued.
Inniss explained that while a student pursuing a degree in English at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies might be asked to pay $6,000 a year towards the programme, Government had to underwrite another $35,000 a year in both tuition and economic costs for the student.
He added that Government currently pay $60,000 a year for every patient on dialysis with end stage renal failure at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“This is not chicken feed. Therefore we must be very frank as politicians and as community leaders with our citizens as to what these services are costing the Government and the options available to find financing. All of us have to make sacrifices if we are to safeguard the gains and if we are to build a stronger society going forward,” Inniss pointed out.
The issue of price gouging was also raised today by Government Senator Jeptor Ince, who said that falling petrol prices ought to be reflected in the prices on supermarket shelves.
“Barbados is import driven. If your import prices fall by almost two per cent; fuel prices are low and commodity prices are low you would expect to see it reflected in the price of food in the supermarket.
“I do not expect the private sector to engage in price gouging, I expect them to pass on the benefits to the people of Barbados. If your import prices are down, then it should be reflected in the cost of food,” Ince said in his Democratic Labour Party’s lunchtime lecture at the party’s headquarters on George Street, St Michael.
“The price of oil is moving, but not aggressively to cause any major impact, the price of commodities is down, Barbados rate of inflation is down and the price of imports are lower when compared with those of 2014. I believe the consumers of Barbados should see a benefit unless retailers are going to say that port charges have increased,” he argued.