NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said yesterday that the federal government won’t delay the roll-out of its price control expansion plans despite serious concerns and pushback from the local food wholesale and retail industry, as the federal government expects to have resolved all the problems by this coming Friday.
In line with the Retail Grocers Association, while the federal government has announced that 38 items can be added to the Price Control Basket, it’s if truth be told 38 categories of foodstuffs, which might affect greater than 5,000 items to which inventory and price adjustments would must be made.
The association has argued that the move can be detrimental to the local food wholesale and retail industry.
Representatives of the RGA met with Prime Minister Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Halkitis and other government ministers and officials on Monday to debate the problem.
Halkitis told reporters yesterday that Monday’s meeting was “fruitful”. He added that the federal government is keen on ensuring that customers profit from the trickle-down effect of its various initiatives to lower prices and combat global inflation.
“We heard their concerns concerning the impact on their businesses,” Halkitis said. “Considered one of the foremost issues was the notice period they thought needs to be longer.
“We got here away saying that we’d get some additional input from them on some adjustments that they think could be made and we are going to hopefully have all of those issues resolved by this Friday. Now we have committed to not going to the complete enforcement until now we have sorted all those issues out.
Halkitis continued: “Now we have asked them to offer some additional suggestions on how they think we will attain the goal ie bringing relief to the general public… either side understand that we may not get the whole lot that we wish but I feel it was very positive.”
Some retailers have expressed concerns over the time needed to make the obligatory adjustments to the Price Control regime expansion and the federal government will accommodate those retailers who need time to regulate their prices.
When asked about claims by the RGA that the Price Control regime expansion may lead to closures and job losses, Halkitis stressed that the federal government’s primary concern was over the rise in prices on food and the impact on consumers.
“We’re sure that there’s a middle ground that could be reached. We don’t see this resulting in massive business closures. We don’t see that but now we have asked the association to offer some numbers that we will have a look at but we don’t anticipate that.
“We expect it’s reasonable what we’re proposing, taking into consideration that this initiative will likely be in place for six months after which will likely be reviewed,” said Halkitis.