Although there have not been widespread reports of price-gouging in the Virgin Islands due to Coronavirus fears, there have been reports of panic buying. Supermarkets across the Territory have been busy with shoppers, who have cleaned shelves of items such as disinfectant sprays and wipes, toilet papers, paper towels, oranges and vitamin tablets.
With the demands for these items at a high, there is the possibility of unscrupulous businesspersons jacking up prices for these commodities as was the case after hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
In fact, in some countries with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, there have been reports of businesses raising their prices for certain items by as much as 500 percent.
The Government of the Virgin Islands; however, has sent an early warning for persons intent on engaging in price gouging.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) in a public statement on latest measures by Government in responding proactively to COVID-19, said Cabinet noted that discussions on price gouging and other related matters would be held with the Department of Trade, Investment Promotions and, as well as other stakeholders.
“Your Government has zero tolerance for this type of negative behaviour,” Premier Fahie stated.
No need for panic buying
Hon Fahie also said there is no benefit to be derived from panicking, “absolutely no benefit to be derived, and panic buying.”
He urged persons to be level-headed, informed, and calm, adding that the measures being put in place by Government will ensure that all aspects of this challenge can and will be handled in an orderly fashion.
He also called for prayers.
“We in the BVI are all too familiar with the power of Prayer. Nothing is too big for GOD!
“I am calling on our Kingdom Ambassadors and prayer warriors to petition God. Let us pray individually and collectively that God will protect our Territory and people from this plague. Together we must use what is in our hands, the Power of Prayer and Faith in God that he will protect us.
By His Grace and Love we shall overcome this challenge. We will get through this together.
I thank you and I promise that we will keep you informed.”