TASK FORCE ON PRICING TO ADDRESS CONSUMER ISSUES

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                                               Consumer Affairs Minister, Senator Lynette Eastmond and Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Jeffery Kellman.

Consumer Affairs Minister, Senator Lynette Eastmond, has been explaining the make-up and mandate of a recently-established task force on pricing and a technical team that has been set up by the Barbados Government.

She told a press conference today at the Ministry’s Reef Road headquarters that the two entities should “seek to determine what are the underlying causes for the escalation in prices over time, develop a monitoring mechanism to be used by the ministry and general public, and to create a long-term strategy for monitoring prices that would include all of the stakeholders considered to be important to the issue.”

Senator Eastmond made it abundantly clear that the approach to the work which is expected to be carried out would be done in a systematic and scientific fashion.
 “We do not intend to engage in guess work; so far, our preliminary research has shown us that the issues of increasing food prices and inflation are ones that continue to affect countries internationally; so it is incorrect to suggest that Barbados is somehow on its own when it comes to the issue of food prices,” she said.

The Ministry of Commerce Consumer Affairs and Business Development has been for sometime now monitoring the prices of a basket of goods and the findings have been reported to the social partners. The Minister said subsequent to this, her ministry had been working to ensure that the monitoring process was significantly user-friendly, and one that consumers could depend on when they were shopping in supermarkets.

“We are looking at approximately 35 items, which include basic items like bread, biscuits and fruit … and we are also carrying out this monitoring process at 10 supermarkets. What the public should ascertain from this is an idea of what the average price of any particular item should be in a supermarket,” she said.

The Minister noted that the current basket of goods being sampled was limited because any sample larger than the current one might be too difficult to manage.  “What we are seeking to do is to ensure that the consumer is better informed when making choices,” she added.

Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Jeffery Kellman, noted that his department would meet soon with the technical unit to compare invoices and ensure that everything corresponded.

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