Price gouging amid the new coronavirus threat that looms large over the country has prompted government to amend the Supplies Control Regulations via Statutory Instrument Number Thirty-three of 2020.  The additional piece of law establishes a maximum percentage increase on the wholesale and retail prices of general sanitizers and cleaners.  These guidelines cover major categories of goods for domestic and commercial use and include bleach, peroxide and other supplies such as liquid soap, face masks and alcohol-based sanitizers.  On Monday, News Five spoke with Jose Trejo, Director of the Bureau of Standards, ahead of a meeting with the Belize Police Department.  Both parties have met to explore law enforcement in light of ongoing price gouging.

Jose Trejo, Director, Bureau of Standards

“Government, over the weekend, issued Statutory Instrument 33 of 2020 and this law requires now that certain items, sanitizers and cleaners, to be exact, are now part of the price control regime, part F of the new schedule and this sets up markups for wholesale and retail sales across the board for these items.  As it relates to what we’re doing now, we are scouring the markets now as we speak.  Officers are out in the field, we’re looking at these items.  We are looking at understanding the wholesale, the supply and distribution chain of these items.  It’s kind of complex because you are looking at a whole myriad of products.  Lysol, for example, has different volumes, different strengths and used in different applications.  But the law speaks to domestic and commercial applications, so that’s what we’re doing now to determine that.  What we’re also trying to do is to make a determination as to what the stock is.  So gathering that information from the wholesalers and the retailers is important for us to understand the inventory and the flow of that inventory.  As it relates to enforcement, where there are clear violations in terms of us working out the wholesale and retail price, we will be enforcing the law.  So wholesalers and retailers are reminded that they’re supposed and are required by law to provide us with their invoices and all their documentation in respect to these items.”

Isani Cayetano

“For enforcement, I think part of the issue at hand would be the number of persons who are able to canvass areas within the country and that seems to be the challenge, correct?  How does that work?”

Jose Trejo

“We are supposed to be meeting shortly with the police department because of that.  We have resource constraints in terms of personnel and mobility.  So the police department will be meeting with us this afternoon to discuss how we can collaborate in terms of, in showing that there’s a greater presence in the marketplace.  I do anticipate that we will be reaching out to the town council’s as well to be able to speak to them on what we’re doing and how they can assist us in this effort.”

Channel 5