St Lucia: The Consumer Affairs Department of the Ministry of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs has informed that the nation that the Government has approved the suspension of the 6 percent service charge on imported price controlled goods, as a short term measure to cushion or “ease the squeeze” on consumers as a result of the rising prices of goods and services. The announcement has been made by Minister with responsibility for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Minister Emma Hippolyte.
She took the opportunity to explain further how the measure will work. The Ministry through the Consumer Affairs Department is responsible for monitoring the importation, prices and sale of a group of goods that the Government considers necessary for the daily sustenance of the average consumer, and to assist in the development of key sectors. These goods are called Price Controlled Goods which includes oil, milk, tuna fish, salted biscuits, sardines, baby foods, cement. They are controlled either by a specific wholesale and retail mark up or by a fixed price. The measure applies to all goods controlled by a specific mark up; for example, Milk: powdered and evaporated attract mark ups of 71/2 percent and 10 percent on w/sale and retail respectively.
The prices of all Price Controlled goods are approved at the Consumer Affairs Department. Therefore, the prices of those goods at the super markets, small shops or any retail/wholesale outlet should not exceed the prices approved by the Department.
The short term measure announced by Minister Emma Hipployte will apply to goods imported from June 01, to August 31, 2022. Goods already imported and either in Warehouses or on the shelves of retailers have been priced using the 6 percent service charge. These prices will remain until goods are exhausted. The price changes are expected for goods being imported from June 01. There will be no application of the service charge by the Customs and Excise Department. If the landed cost of the imported goods remains the same, given that the service charge will not be applied and the mark-up is fixed, then the price to the consumer will be lower.
There are thirteen (13) items that are currently under Price Control for a specific size; for example, Corned beef, only the seven ounce was controlled and not the larger size. Effective June 01, 2022, the importation of all sizes of goods under the Price Control Order, will now be subject to Price Control. However, a further review of the sizes of these goods is being done and an update will be provided in due course.