Soaring costs

Consumer rights advocate warns of steep price rises

The country’s most vocal consumer rights advocate is warning Barbadians to prepare for steep price rises in the coming months, predicting that some consumer goods could climb by as much as 60 per cent.

With reports emerging that supermarkets would likely pass increases in some shipping costs out of the United States on to consumers, Director General of the Barbados Consumers Research Organization Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt said he anticipated that retailers would treble the amount they would pass on to consumers.

Ocean transportation company Seaboard Marine has served notice that the US domestic fuel surcharge will increase to 23 per cent effective March 1, 2018 from the major ports in the US, an increase it said its costumers would be asked to meet.

“If it is going to cost them 23 per cent you know it is going to cost us 60 per cent,” Gibbs-Taitt said.

News of the increase followed an earlier statement on the company’s website, in which it had advised of a general rate increase to and from select countries in the Caribbean effective January 7, 2018.

Countries affected included Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Tortola.

The increase was applicable to all tariff and service contracts, it said, pointing out that the cost to the 20 foot container would go up by US$100, the 40 foot container would increase by US$200, the 45 foot container by US$225.

It had also said vehicles not exceeding 750 cubic feet would go up by $60 and the rate for vehicles exceeding that measurement would rise by “$4.24 weight or measure”.

There were also increases in bulk and “less-than-container load” of $4.24 also based on weight or measure.

Consumers here have already had to face a 5.5 per cent rise in the cost of goods because of austerity measures announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last May, and which came into effect in July.

These included the much hated National Social Responsibility Levy, which increased from two to ten per cent of the customs value of locally produced and imported goods, hikes in the excise duty on petrol and a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions.

Gibbs-Taitt said it was time Barbadians form an association to “agitate” on their behalf and pushback against such increases, stressing that he could not do it alone.

“Fundamentally, we need some vibrancy in the consumer movement. We need somebody who can agitate to get people to hold off their attacks. That is what you need in the marketplace right now.

“The consumers in Barbados are not interested in themselves. I on my own cannot do it. What we need is a concerted effort for consumers to get together and in large numbers and we can become so powerful that we could even close down supermarkets. That is how serious it is,” he said.

Gibbs-Taitt added that an association would also help consumers take control of their spending money by bypassing the supermarkets and going directly to overseas suppliers.

“It is very simple. You buy from the same places that the supermarkets buy from. It means that the way the supermarkets would have to come and put a mark up we wouldn’t have to do a mark up,” he said.

“Even if there is a rise in prices that we can do nothing about, the point is that we would have no option but to pay those rises, but the same way we would have to pay them and a supermarket would have to pay them for example, when that supermarket pays them it is going to put three times that for profits. We don’t have to do that. We can deal with the matter ourselves, but it needs a concerted attempt by people to get together and pool our resources,” the consumer rights advocate stressed.

The International Monetary Fund warned in a statement last week that the Barbados economy, which recorded about one per cent growth last year, was slowing down and was expected to record growth of only 0.5 per cent this year.

It also pointed out that “inflation is projected to rise by year end to 5.5 per cent as a result of recent tax increases but return to its historical norm in the medium term”.

Imports of consumer goods fell by an estimated 7.7 per cent during the second half of last year after growing by 2.4 per cent in the first half of the year.

It is estimated that imports of consumer goods will continue to decline as a result of Government’s tax measures, which were designed to achieve just that, in order to help lower the fiscal deficit and prop up foreign reserves.

12 Responses to Soaring costs

  1. Saga Boy February 6, 2018 at 1:34 am

    Mr.Gibbs – Taitt it is time you ask yourself some serious questions? The first however is ” why is it that when I look behind me after all these years, no one else is following?”

    Reply
  2. Tony Webster February 6, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Dat’s a good question for Mr. Taitt….and for Saga Boy too.

    Reply
  3. archy perch February 6, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Another question for Mr. Gibbs-Taitt. Why is my crooked party (the Barbados Labour Party) in bed with the same greedy rascals that raise prices in Barbados like Charles Herbert and his group.
    What does lime do to milk? And also, when is the next annual general meeting of his imaginary consumers organisation. Can you send me an invitation to membership (archy.perch@yahoo.com)

    Reply
  4. Sheron Inniss February 6, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Mr Gibbs-Taitt you will still need foreign exchange. That does not solve the problem. What we need to do is to find methods to shop that do not drain the remaining foreign reserves.

    Reply
    • roger headley February 6, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Suggest one

      Reply
    • jennifer February 6, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Sheron this is the fruit manifestation, from the building of an academia and pride society.

      Reply
  5. Helicopter(8P) February 6, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Now here is where our beloved ansestors out of Panama C.I.A. would be effective in cushioning this effect. Our nation having a direct Air/ Marine transport and trade agreement with Panama’s Trading directorate, and Marine and Customs.

    Reply
  6. jrsmith February 6, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Bajans is always having they backs a against the razor sharp wire fence , because they don’t try to do anything to help themselves …… The people minds are so ****ed up they don’t know where to turn or what to do,,…….
    Bajans start getting your fingers out, the ships is gradually passing us by, the only thing left for us in Barbados is agriculture we must do our own thing ,, The companies is only interested in keeping close to they 100% profits its about time they get sting , let them keep they expensive products in they shops ………………………..

    Reply
    • jennifer February 6, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      lol

      Reply
  7. Ray February 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I do not understand why all of this negativity in Bafbados , when the islands of the Caribbean hit by surmounting costs caused by the devestating hurricanes are dealing with their problems quietly and Bajans are complaining and moaning like we are worse off than others.
    We need to thank God we escaped last year`s season and ask God for guidance as to what we can do to help the region.
    Suposing we were hit like others in the Caribbean where would we be now?
    We are no better than anyone else. Stop fooling yourselves.
    Guyana offered land a few years ago to Bdos crops cheaply, only one man took it up, ( that I know of).
    As usual Bdos belittled Guyana and its offer. Now Guyana is too busy dealing with its priorities.
    Bajans born and bred “Telling it like it is“ now?

    Reply
  8. jennifer February 6, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    “The consumers in Barbados are not interested in themselves. I on my own cannot do it. What we need is a concerted effort for consumers to get together and in large numbers and we can become so powerful that we could even close down supermarkets. That is how serious it is,” he said.

    This is where all the problems will start, mind over matter sort of thing.
    Next problem – those accolade loving, boxed up lot in town who is consistent in performing reverse robin-hood tactics.

    just continue to GRIN AND BARE.

    Reply
  9. Sheron Inniss February 8, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    @ Roger Headley. I would try reverse psychology. I would let the manufacturers overseas pay all of the shipping costs, etc from their end. Why? They want us to buy their products. Let companies here take the items on consignment and when they are sold they will be paid in Bajan currency. That money would be used to pay the usual importers.

    Anything is worth a try right now. At least it is better than going to hell in a basket. The foreign reserves could then be saved for the absolute necessities.

    I feel we should be looking for ways to operate from a position of strength instead of making others feel they are more than us.

    Reply

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