Sunday 27 September, 2020

Barbados government announces COVID-19 basket of goods

(File Photo) 
Cherish Supermarket in Bridgetown.

(File Photo) Cherish Supermarket in Bridgetown.

The Barbados government has announced that 48 items will fall under the new COVID-19 basket of goods to ensure they are protected from price gouging or shortages.

The announcement came from Minister of Small Business and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland during the debate on the Appropriation Bill 2020 in the House of Assembly today.

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The Minister said the COVID-19 basket of goods represents “what the average householder would consume during this crisis”. While not exploring the entire list, he disclosed the basket includes items such as baby food, luncheon meat, tuna, sardines, red herring, pasta, rice, corn meal flour, potatoes, sugar, biscuits, bread, vitamin C, oranges, sanitary items such as adult, baby diapers and toilet paper as well as antibacterial and disinfectant items. 

“We sat as a government …  various importers of goods, wholesalers and retailers, in three meetings over the last five days to see how best we can work as a team to ensure that there is no price gouging or no hoarding.

Even though they know the prices [of imported goods] will increase, we have worked as a team to ensure that we absorb those prices. We will make sure that within these 48 items in the COVID [COVID-19] basket, prices will come down and not increase.”

Despite a directive issued by Prime Minister Mia Mottley last week, not to hoard supplies, Barbadians have been flocking to supermarkets and wholesalers across the island in an attempt to grab high demand items such as hand sanitizer, household cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items.

Minister Sutherland said in light of the fact that importing may be challenging in the months ahead, they have considered sourcing foods from alternative markets.

“This list of 48 items, we said as government, we do not want to see a price increase even though buying becomes a challenge in light of international markets being closed, vessels not coming and bringing the items. We said if we have to we will source these items from other places … we have started to look at rice coming out of Suriname because we can’t get rice out of the other traditional markets.”

He added the goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable in society will have access to food for as long as the pandemic persists.

“People we know will be struggling if this virus stays with us for the next four to six months, businesses might not be able to pay the normal wages on the weekly or monthly basis but people still have to eat in this country.”  

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