One day after the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago(SATT) said there may be an increase in food prices following the budget, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon is not entertaining the conversation.
Speaking with Guardian Media, yesterday Minister Gopee-Scoon said, “I cannot join in speculation with the Supermarkets Association.”
She said while she has no idea what is in the budget, she is mindful of the global health crisis and “ our current circumstances exhibited at the recent Spotlight on the economy.”
Speaking with Guardian Media on Wednesday Rajiv Diptee, SATT president said customers would have to pay more for goods, “Depending on if new taxes are introduced, any shifts in Forex availability or possible erosion in the exchange rates.”
Diptee explained that these types of changes create shocks to prices as they create an increase in the cost of operation as well as have an impact on the cost of goods.
Following the statements, many people took to social media to weigh in on the topic.
“Most of these items are imported. Can the government support local manufacturing and agriculture, which will create employment and reduce the heavy cost on the ‘imported products’ food bill,” Cherry-Ann Craigwell posted.
However, most of the comments centred around the fact that food prices have been on the increase for some time now and the budget was just being used as yet another excuse.
For example, Mala Singh-Ramsammy wrote, “Food prices are always increasing, sad that so much foodstuff gets dumped rather than sold reasonably so that the small people can survive.”
In adding its voice to the issue the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), of which many suppliers are a part, says to stabilize the domestic market it is signalling a need for both private and public sector to commit to local procurement by reducing the import demand for products that are manufactured locally.
President Franka Costelloe said reducing costs will rely heavily on reducing the input costs associated with local production.
“Improved productivity in the labour market and efficiencies at agencies such as Customs, CFDD (Chemistry, Food and Drug Division), BIR (Board of Inland Revenue) and others, that business depends on, are now critical in the aim of keeping costs down,” she said.