The Premier’s statement comes one day after Opposition Leader Marlon Penn accused the government of ‘waging a war on local businesses when he announced a task force to mitigate price gouging in the territory.
But the Premier denied that this was actually the case and said Penn’s claims were malicious.
“All the government is saying and continues to say, if your price or your cost to import your goods is already paid for and you’re selling your goods with your markup based on the cost of your goods to get to your store and you still have more of those products in stock at the same cost, you cannot increase your price because you hear that there’s a war against the Ukraine,” Premier Fahie said.
He continued: “You cannot just increase gas prices and you didn’t get a fresh stock in that shows the increase, or you increase jewellery prices and you didn’t get a fresh stock in since the conflict started. It is as simple as that.”
The Premier explained that his government’s actions are aimed at protecting consumers and ensuring that there are good business practices at all times.
He further defended his position by stating that it would be ludicrous of a government to tell a business that its cost to bring in goods has increased, yet they cannot increase their prices.
“I was amazed to know that persons spread that. And I was amazed to know that people believe it,” he said. “That would not be wise at all. Our aim is to make sure that we look out for what’s best for the people of the Virgin Islands, sometimes even when it’s not popular.”
He argued that businesses that already had their goods imported need to leave their price as it is until they receive new stock when there is evidence that the price of the new stock has increased.
“Then we can say, well, you’re correct. You can increase the prices because you have no choice at that time,” he stated.
Meanwhile, NDP Radio host Akeem Pickering previously explained on the show that some gas stations likely raise their fuel prices immediately in anticipation of a higher purchase price for new stock.
Pickering noted that this was despite having a large quantity of their current inventory on hand.
He advised that this was to ensure that the business would be able to cover their expenses when purchasing their new stock of fuel.