The shipping crisis isn't only affecting the availability of goods and supplies, but also the cost. Don't be surprised if you see the price of commodities increasing in the coming weeks. This leaves the door wide open for store owners to take advantage of the situation by jacking up their prices far beyond what is necessary.
And while the free market is virtually impossible to police, Government is at least giving lip service to an attempt to reign it in.
In yesterday's Cabinet meeting, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise was tasked with looking into the rising cost of living and to introduce a legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to protect consumers against price gouging. The PM told us more about it this morning.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"Well, he did provided the update basically was what we all know that there is a crisis with shipping that we're not getting our products on time, although it's not as bad as in other countries, but probably just as important that the costs have been going up so high. You know that at one time when a container be costing that $4,000 to get to Belize, now that is about $20,000 and that is having a dire effect on the cost of goods. Yesterday, we had an in-depth discussion with the with the Minister of Agriculture, price supplies control is under his watch, and we decided that what we will do is that now we're going to do more active monitoring on products that are coming to try to ease or to try to stop as best as we possibly can price gouging, we would be coming back to cabinet with a paper and then presented to the public. But basically what we will do is to have consumers to be our police officers, that when they see anything with price gouging that they can take a photograph of it. Send it to us to investigate it. And then we are going to increase considerably the fees or the penalties, yeah, the penalties for price gouging. And then we're going to share what we collect with the person that makes that report. So then we're going to have tens of thousands of officers out there ensuring that we can minimize the price gouging that is taking place in some unscrupulous stores around this country."