An Epidemic of Price Gouging Threatens the Government

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Eggs at Everything Must Go was only $2:19 about five years ago when Foodstores sold eggs at $6.00 in 2021.

The Editor,

Bahamas Press

22 May,2024

Dear BP,

Bahamians have long complained about excessive prices across the spectrum of goods in the Bahamas. Many food items in Nassau or other imported goods are exorbitantly priced compared to goods in, say, the US.

Let’s be clear: I am not talking about price-controlled items. I am referring to those other food items that seem to increase in cost almost daily. In this situation, store prices are raised so frequently that they don’t even bother to display the price of an item because they will just have to go back and change it a day or so later.

Of course, the high cost of living is blamed on the government because they are a convenient whipping boy. Some point at the increase of the VAT, but that, in my view, is not the reason for these high prices, especially on food items. Rather, with price control as a distraction, Bahamians are getting jammed up on other items required to live reasonably comfortably in addition to lower price-controlled items.

 I have long believed that the Price Control Commission is a cruel joke perpetrated on consumers. This is especially true given all the complaints about price gouging from Bahamian consumers, but yet I have not seen the culprits brought before the courts for economic offences.

I know that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has inspectors checking prices, but Bahamians are unsure how extensive these inspections are and what the results are. But this economic carnage, like many of the problems that directly threaten government policies and longevity, is easily solved. For example, more senior ex-customs officers should be involved in the Price Control Commission operations. After all, they were engaged in how the customs tariffs operate and should be applied.

Then, perhaps, we will get some relief on food prices and the other exorbitant prices plaguing us. As their first task, maybe they can investigate and explain how tariff-free items, which cost $1.50, magically rise to cost $7.50 on the shelf.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Brown