Government to protect consumers against price gouging
Friday, November 26th, 2021
The availability of goods and supplies is becoming an issue due to problems with shipping, leading to the cost increase of commodities and services. More increases in basic food items are expected. As such, the Government of Belize will be introducing new legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to protect Belizean consumers against price gouging.
On Tuesday, November 22nd, the decision was taken during the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Honourable John Briceño. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise was instructed to study the rising cost of living. The head of this ministry, Honourable Jose Mai, was asked to introduce legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives, ensuring that all necessary legal mechanisms are in place for the relevant authority to pursue merchants and shop owners engaged in price gouging.
Prime Minister Briceño said that there is a crisis with shipping causing delays in the delivery of products the country imports and increasing the cost of living. He explained this is because bringing a container of products to Belize used to be around $4,000, now it is costing about $20,000. “We had an in-depth discussion with the with the Minister of Agriculture, price supplies control is under his watch, and we decided that what we will do is that now we are going to do more active monitoring on products that are coming to try to ease or to try to stop as best as we possibly can price gouging,” said Briceño. According to the prime minister, the plan is to notify the authorities about places increasing their prices on goods far beyond necessary. They ask people to do this by taking pictures of the items overly priced.
Those establishments found guilty could face penalties for price gouging. “So, then we are going to have tens of thousands of officers (customers) out there ensuring that we can minimize the price gouging that is taking place in some unscrupulous stores around this country,” said Briceño.
On Ambergris Caye, the cost for goods is higher than most items on the mainland because everything is barged to the island. Despite this fact, stakeholders on the Cayes are advised to charge accordingly and not engage in price gouging. Additionally, consumers are asked to report any violation against this upcoming new law once this legislation is passed.
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