Earlier this week, we told you that the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the government detailing their concerns with a new price control system that was presented to Cabinet. By the proposals, 30 food items - such as butter, evaporated milk, and eggs - would see a maximum markup of 15%, while 13 non food items - like soap, toilet paper, and fabric softener - will have a 20% maximum markup. The list was created to combat inflation, but the BCCI says they were never consulted.

Their review dated July 16th lists several issues they have with the list, including what exactly the percentages will be calculated based on, how the percentages were arrived at, which goods will be included in terms of brand, quality and origin, and how it will be enforced.

They also listed the possible effects of the price controls, like reduced product quality, shortages, a minimum impact on inflation, and an impact on business.

In the letter to the prime minister dated July 18th, the BCCI requested that the Government pause the development of the policy so that, quote, "detailed research and consultation by Government and private sector can be done to ensure that any initiative to combat inflation can precisely benefit the low-income households most affected by inflation and that the private sector is not disproportionately impacted." End quote.

In an interview on Monday, Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai said the BCCI were a little out of line and should maybe think of expanding its membership. Today, Minister Henry Charles Usher said the BCCI should have been consulted, but it's not like GOB didn't consult the business sector at all.

Henry Charles Usher, Area Rep, Fort George
"I believe that they should have been consulted, the two ministries that were dealing with the increasing the number of price regulated items were the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister Mai, and Ministry of Human Development, Minister Dolores, and they actually put together a big group that was looking at all of the items and what Belizeans, stay at home moms, stay at home dads, working moms, working dads, and all of those persons that go to the store to shop, they are the ones that put together that list. Perhaps there could have been more consultation with the business community but remember that we did as a government meet with certain sectors of the business community as well on this particular issue of prices so it's not like they didn't have any consultation at all but as to the specific items of the price related goods, perhaps there could have been more consultation."

"They're asked whether research was done and they say their own research was that this does not work, that it's competition that drives prices and so."

Henry Charles Usher, Area Rep, Fort George
"I've heard that but then the competition tends to have collusion as well, that if it increase in one area, it's not like another area will sell below, they'll increase too, so you have to have some kind of regulation to make sure that the prices remain affordable to Belizeans."

Channel 7