Prime Minister David Thompson (FP)????

If local consumers are of the view that prices are decreasing, government is willing to "leave it to the private sector" and shelve plans to set up a state-owned agency that offers goods at more competitive prices.

Prime Minister David Thompson made this statement recently, during an interview with members of the media at Ilaro Court.??

Mr. Thompson stressed that the state-owned agency was a contingency, in the event that cooperation was not received from the private sector, and noted that?? government was therefore willing to analyse the situation.

He said, however, there was evidence as government had suggested of areas in which there could be "considerable reductions" in prices. "Some of the middle men are the same people who are the end-sellers of products. And, some of the mark-ups in relation to those middle men can be eliminated, and we will not rest until that is achieved," Mr. Thompson warned.

Reiterating that he would like to see a competitive environment, the Prime Minister pointed out that meetings could be held with the private sector, but emphasised that ??"they would have to bring good evidence to us that they have been efforts, and serious efforts, to reduce?? the cost to consumers".

He pointed out that markups had nothing to do with taxes. "Whenever people talk to government, they want to talk about taxes – reduced taxes, we have some other things we want to talk about – the maintenance of jobs, [and] restraint in relation to profit levels over the period of the recession," he added.

Prime Minister Thompson said that they would reward those companies which worked with government to achieve national objectives. Stating that he was not antagonistic towards the private sector, he cautioned that he would be, "if the discussion only centred around taxes because that was not the substance of the debate".

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