Boycott them – Sinckler
Just days after Minister of Industry Donville Inniss threatened to name and shame businesses which raised prices to unreasonable levels following the introduction of the National Social Responsibility Levy on Thursday, one of his Cabinet colleagues is taking the attack to such businesses even further.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler today urged Barbadians to boycott businesses that jack up their prices exorbitantly.
Sinckler said he expected the cost of goods to rise after the newly-imposed two per cent levy on imports goes into effect on September 1.
However, he said it ought not be immediate, due to the fact that existing stock would not have been subjected to the levy, nor must the price increases be excessive.
Speaking to reporters this morning on the sidelines of the official opening of the fifth Burger King fast food outlet at Warrens, St Michael, the minister warned of one supermarket which he said could not justify hiking its prices the moment the levy takes effect, but which was on the radio today inviting consumers to shop now and enjoy low prices now because prices would rise on Thursday.
Sinckler did not identify the supermarket, but advised Barbadians to be aware of the fact that the two per cent tax was not applicable to this company’s existing stock.
“I know the system well enough to know that that particular company has quite a bit of stock in Barbados, and that stock would have come through the port without two per cent on it. So therefore, there should be no immediate change in the price of the product being provided on the 1st of September; that will have to come when the restocks come in sometime later. So it is interesting days . . . now we will see what the immediate reaction will be,” he said.
Despite his concerns, Sinckler suggested the Ministry of Commerce had little to no power to penalize price gougers,but that its responsibility was to monitor prices and alert Barbadians.
“I don’t know of any specific penalties, but I think people have choices, and the best penalty that you can have is for those persons who see unreasonable behaviour . . . where it is clearly perceptible that people are being unreasonable, then they should shift their purchases to somewhere else where a more reasonable behaviour is being exhibited,” the Minister of Finance advised.