NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) said yesterday that several recent policy changes announced by the Davis administration may have a dangerous effect on the local business community.
The country’s primary private sector representative also pushed back against the federal government’s plans to scale back the profit margins of food and pharmaceutical retailers/wholesalers.
In a press release yesterday, the BCCEC siad that the recently announced Bahamas Power and Light fuel charge hike, the rise within the minimum wage to take effect January 1, 2023, and the new price control measures will increase the already high cost of doing business within the country.
“These decisions are set to have deleterious impacts on the business community, which continues to be coping with the inflationary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the BCCEC said.
“It’s the BCCEC’s considered view that companies should have the opportunity to profit from the principles of free enterprise and, as such, should have the opportunity to set profit margins commensurate with their cost to obtain goods and services, in an effort to operate and meet monthly expenses.”
The Chamber of Commerce said that it stands with the Retail Grocers Association, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association, and others “of their efforts to work with the federal government find an appropriate and workable path forward”.
“These industry and trade associations have been vocal on issues impacting their members, lots of whom are also members of the BCCEC. The BCCEC has long believed in and continues to advocate for, meaningful and robust consultation between the Government and the business community. Such consultation is an important pre-requisite to the sleek and equitable adoption of new policies, allowing businesses enough time for implementation, and facilitating easier consumer adaptation,” the BCCEC said.
It further noted, “Many of the BCCEC members, though indirectly impacted by the recent announcement on price control measures, might be directly impacted by increases in the prices of labour and energy. Significant policy shifts which impact businesses should be made after substantive consultation with the business community, with a selected emphasis on the industries and sectors most impacted. As at all times, the BCCEC stands willing and capable of offer our support within the collective effort toward finding sustainable and comprehensive solutions that move our business community and country forward.”
The federal government has been at odds with the Retail Grocers Association and The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association in recent weeks after Prime Minister Philip Davis announced plans to temporarily expand the worth control regime on food and medicine in an effort to supply relief to consumers. The choice nonetheless has received serious pushback as a consequence of an absence of prior consultation and the likely financial impact, which retailers/wholesalers say could jeopardize their businesses.