Saturday 30 May, 2020

Felix puts businesses on notice: Do not price gouge during virus scare

Commerce Minister Bradley Felix has put local businesses on notice against illegal price gouging amid coronavirus fears.

Products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and certain cleaning products that became more popular and important to consumers increased significantly in price in recent weeks due to the spread of COVID-19.

While consumers are voicing their concerns over social media, Minister Felix says his ministry has not received any formal complaint.

The ministry, he says, have measures in place to ensure that retailers do not use the crisis to increase prices on consumers.

“We do have a consumer affairs division and they are staffed with travelling officers and they do their periodic checks,” the minister said.

Price gouging, he says, was at the center of a recent head of department meeting last week to ensure that business places do not engage in the practice.

In some instances, prices on hand sanitizer and other disinfecting products increased by 300 per cent.

“I don’t think the price increase started in St Lucia,” Felix declared.

“Because of shortages worldwide, from the production end, these prices have increased and obviously getting to our ports they would have had a marked increase which would have to be passed on,” the minister added.

“If we do recognize that businesses are engaging in price gouging, rest assured, the ministry will take the relevant steps to step in and address the matter,” Felix declared.

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