Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Soundbites without strategy! Penn bangs Premier on rising prices

Soundbites without strategy! Penn bangs Premier on rising prices

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has condemned the apparent short-term approach by the government to introduce a task force aimed at addressing price gouging in the territory.

Penn said he wants to hear a long-term strategy from Premier Andrew Fahie which takes into consideration the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Premier spoke recently about implementing a task force to address issues in relation to rising prices at the pump locally, but he also warned that the task force will be working to address price gouging at establishments as well.

But Penn, while speaking on his party’s NDP radio show last evening, said there were already tools at the government’s disposal to address the issues and cited adjustments to a tariff on fuel as one of these.

He also mentioned a 100 per cent increase on wharfage which was recently imposed at the ports and said this drives up the cost of living for consumers and pushes inflation through the roof.

According to Penn, people are even afraid to open their electricity bills because they are uncertain about how rising fuel costs will affect them personally.

Gov’t waging war with businesses

The Eighth District Representative referenced adjustments made to fuel tariffs by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and said these directly linked to savings for consumers in that country.

Bringing that reference closer to home, Penn said in order for those types of decisions to be made, the government needs to have a certain level of engagement and discussions with businesses in the industry.

However, the Opposition Leader suggested that the Fahie-led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration has a habit of waging war with local industries without first having a conversation with them.

“We need to have a clear strategy and that’s what we continue to ask,” Penn argued. “We are hearing these soundbites that are coming out of the Premier and his team, but we’re not hearing a plan.”

He continued: ”We’re not hearing a strategy that is going to have some kind of real impact on the everyday lives of our people in the territory – particularly at the pump is one thing, but [also] at the grocery store. We need to have a clearer strategy, not just what is seemingly a war that’s being waged on the business community, but have a dialogue with the business community.”

“Let’s come up and work collectively towards a solution that could help ease the pain on these issues in the interim and the medium term and look at something more long term in terms of how we’re going to move forward as a territory,” Penn added.


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