The President of Saint Lucia’s National Consumers Association, Dr. Thecla Fitz-Lewis, speaking on behalf of consumers, has urged more action against price gouging.
“From a consumer perspective, and I speak for consumers who repeatedly have expressed several scenarios to us where they have experienced price gouging first-hand, I do not believe enough is done about it,” Fitz-Lewis told St. Lucia Times.
“I do not believe we have any gatekeepers, and if we do, they are not monitoring to ensure that price gouging does not happen,” the NCA President asserted.
Fitz-Lewis, a business owner, acknowledged that certain issues could cause a merchant to implement a price increase.
She explained that those issues included logistics.
“We all know about the shipping logistics and what’s happening in the Panama Canal regarding containers. But despite that, when you look at some of the prices, especially items you can get locally or from different suppliers locally, you see exponential increases compared to what the other one has,” Fitz-Lewis observed.
“While we can argue that you have to take out elements of cost to bring this item, whether food or service to a consumer, some of these costs cannot be justified,” the NCP President declared.
She said systems must be in place to address price gouging.
Fitz-Lewis said Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre had announced the removal of taxes on sanitary napkins, but some outlets did not reflect a price change.
“As a result an Act had to be passed in parliament to empower Consumer Affairs Officers to ensure this does not exist, where they can take corrective action against these retailers who continue to do these unethical things,” she told St. Lucia Times.
The NCA President would like to see Consumer Affairs Officers checking on profit margins at commercial establishments.
“We should know an item’s cost price, the CIF value. I think if we take proper measures like these, we will be able to identify price gouging,” Fitz-Lewis stated.