by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Global price gouging on sanitising products, especially hand sanitisers
- Hand sanitisers are not on list of products under price control in Grenada
Around the world, the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 has certainly led to price gouging on sanitising products, especially on hand sanitisers.
Price gouging refers to where a seller arbitrarily increases prices of goods, services or commodities higher than is considered reasonable.
In Grenada, consumers have been complaining of the prices for these products, although there seems to be an islandwide shortage for hand sanitising products. While the issue of price gouging is considered unfair, in the Consumer Affairs Division within the Central Statistical Office, hands are tied. They are unable to crack down on this issue since hand sanitisers are NOT on the list of products under price control. The division which is expected to be fully operational by July is guided by the Consumer Protection legislation.
Senior Consumer Affairs Officer, Martin Felix, said at present it is up to the consumer to purchase these products. “These things do happen when there is a crisis around. You would find a lot of people rising their prices arbitrarily and the thing about it is that the list of price control items in Grenada is about 47 items and not everything is under price control. Actually, the basic foodstuff things like mackerel, corn beef, rice and sugar and things of that nature are all under price control and not things like hand sanitisers and other things that people are complaining about.”
Felix said the Consumer Affairs Unit cannot arbitrarily include items such as hand sanitiser to the list of items under price control, as this will require the cabinet’s approval. “I don’t think that the items that people are having complaints about can be just placed on the list because this will take some time because it has to go to cabinet for approval and it is not something the government is considering at this point in time,” Felix said.
The division is also aware of a flyer purported to have come from the division, condemning the price gouging of hand sanitisers. “That message circulating didn’t come from us and we don’t know who that came from,” Felix said.
Due to a shortage of sugar, the division is aware of complaints from consumers regarding the price of white and brown sugar. Felix said the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) is responsible for importing sugar therefore their prices are regulated. However, the sugar that is currently on the market was not imported through the MNIB, but through traffickers, therefore, controlling the price is proving difficult.
“The sole importer of sugar on the island is the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) but it seems that they haven’t been doing so in recent times, so traffickers have been bringing in sugar from other places mainly from Trinidad. Because this is not an official importing mechanism, we are not aware of what the prices should be at because normally when MNIB brings in their sugar, they have to send a costing to us which we will approve and then we would know at what price a pound of brown sugar or white sugar should be sold at,” Felix said.
Consumers are encouraged to contact the Price Control/Consumer Affairs Unit for any instance of overpricing at telephone number 440-1369.