The government of Saint Lucia is cushioning the cost of the essential commodities of rice, sugar, and flour amid global price hikes linked primarily to the high shipping cost, Commerce Minister Emma Hippolyte has announced.
“The Ministry of Commerce has responsibility for the importation of rice, flour and sugar to this country and I need to tell you that now the price of sugar and rice have exceeded the cost that we are retailing it to you. So right now the government is cushioning the increases of these basic commodities,” Hippolyte told a news conference on Wednesday.
The Minister, whose responsibilities also include Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives, and Consumer Affairs, disclosed that the biggest challenge for the authorities is sourcing the commodities.
She explained that price and supply stability have been affected, resulting in delivery delays and an increase in the time frame for ordering the commodities.
“The price hike is already here,” she asserted concerning other supermarket goods. “When you go to the supermarket you can do the comparison yourself.”
“We have done a preliminary analysis we continue doing this. We have had significant conversation with the Chamber of Commerce and the National Consumers Association on that issue. It is a very important issue for Saint Lucia because it impacts the whole issue of food security so you can see there are certain basic products that prices are just going up and when you listen to the international news and based on the analysis that we have done, one of the key factors is the high cost of shipping,” she noted.
She revealed that based on the analysis, a 40-foot container from China at one time cost some $US 3000.
“Now it has reached about $15,000. So you can see the type of increase and how it impacts not only Saint Lucia, but how it impacts the supply chain worldwide and consequently irrespective of where the item is being ordered you will get an increase in your freight and in the cost of the item. So if the cost of the raw material is high then the cost of the finished product is going to be high so that is what is impacting us,” the Minister told the news conference.
At the same time, she urged Saint Lucians to buy locally produced goods, although acknowledging that the goods may sometimes cost more than the imported product.
“But I want you to make that comparison that when I purchase this product here, I am supporting the employment of another Saint Lucian,” Hippolyte told reporters.
Headline stock image: Brown sugar arrives at Government Supply Warehouse