Price reductions by next week, BCCI president says
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry Anthony Brancker said consumers can expect to see significant reduction in prices of some items sold in supermarkets from next week.
Brancker was part of the negotiations that yielded a list of measures that Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced on Thursday as part of a BB $17.5 million relief package that will be in place for at least the next six months to help Barbadians manage the high cost of living in the island.
The BCCI president said the prime minister raised the matter for the first time at a meeting of the Social Partnership last Friday and that set a series of events into motion to arrive at “the compact” that will be signed on Saturday.
“The prime minister made it clear that there was need to ease the pressure on the average Barbadian and therefore one of areas that the pressure could be eased was at the supermarket,” he said on the Down to Brass Tacks talk show on Friday on VOB 92.9 FM.
“The prime minister made it clear that she really wanted something that was substantial that when the persons go to the shelves they would realise the difference in the price.”
Brancker added: “It was challenging for us in the business community because we met first of all with the supermarket owners and the supermarket owners themselves are under tremendous pressure because of the increase in the electricity bills, and the cost of running supermarkets generally.
“There was a lot of challenges from the supermarkets to be able to make this happen… The prime minister pulled on the heartstrings of every one to really make this about our social responsibility and the business community responded.”
Brancker said the measure will impact on supermarkets and wholesale distributors, but they have agreed to be part of plan.
“I really want to thank the supermarkets for their willingness to be supportive of this, even the distributive sector,” he said. “It was not an effort by any single sector.
“The retailers agreed that they would come with a particular discount, the distributors matched that discount, and we even extended it to some of the manufacturers who came in and gave some of the discounts, so cumulatively with the removal of VAT on some items and duty on some items, persons should see a significant reduction on those items.”
Mottley announced on Thursday that the government will provide lunches through the School Meals Department for schoolchildren throughout the summer holidays, a reduction on the Value Added Tax to 7.5 per cent for electricity up to the first 250 kilowatt hours, expansion of a list of essential food items on which no VAT will be charged and a few on which no duties will be charged, and the compact with the retail sector that will lead to the reduction of prices on 45 food and household items.