Beautiful Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2023

High cost to live! $100 now only gets you one bag at the store - Smith

High cost to live! $100 now only gets you one bag at the store - Smith

Territorial At-Large Representative Neville Smith has suggested that there may be too much fluctuation in the prices of items on the shelves of grocery stores today.

“If the price is $6 now, tonight, in the morning, the price is $8. Then the next day, the price change again,” Smith told legislators while speaking in the House of Assembly (HOA) recently.

Elected officials were at the time debating an extension to a reduction in Customs duties to ease the cost-of-living burden being experienced by residents amidst rising global prices.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley assured at the time that his government will design a system that will ensure concessions given to businesses — to provide relief to consumers — will be passed on to those consumers.

“We’ll look at a specific basket of goods that we want to provide some relief for, not necessarily luxury items, etcetera, and we’ll ensure that those savings are passed on,” the Premier said.

Smith, in the meantime, argued that unless legislators put mitigation measures in place to keep an eye on what is taking place, such price fluctuations will continue to happen again.

“You cannot go in the supermarket and buy anything for $100 anymore. With $100, you come away with one bag,” Smith stated. “So we have to make sure that this happens because there’s a lot of people really suffering over this.”

“I’m a business person as well, I have to pay the taxes. I have to pay the duty,” he stated. “But we have to make sure that when we get this break, we also give the break to the customers. We have to.”

Not a ‘one step dance’

Smith also told legislators that the process could not be a ‘one-step dance’, arguing that legislators need to remain focused on the issue in order to ensure it is fixed.

“Sometimes you might have to make some adjustments, but we can’t expect just to come to this House and pass it; give the five per cent and expect it going to work, just like that,” Smith stated.

He continued: “It’s not going to. This is something that we need to keep on and we need to have reports coming on how it’s being done, how it’s working. We have to follow it.”

Smith urged his fellow legislators to ensure they continue to monitor and to ensure that the government’s promised 5 per cent reduction in duty “reaches where it’s supposed to go”.

“There’s a lot of people suffering in this place. Prices are really ridiculous,” Smith said.


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