Tuesday’s page 4 headline “Inflation rate is now at 2%, reports STAT” may have been met with some irony, considering how expensive practically everything has become. However, it regards only the Third Quarter 2023, which in this case does not necessarily reflect the recent past.
In fact, following the 0.05% of this year’s Second Quarter it was the first time since late 2020 that the three-month average consumer price index hike remained 2% or lower for two consecutive quarters. On an annual basis inflation stood at 9.44%, which gives a better picture of the increased cost-of-living.
Following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and war in Europe on production, supply and global prices of commodities, the local so-called basket of basic goods for which maximum prices are set was greatly expanded. To what extent that kept people’s grocery bills affordable is not yet known, but it probably helped at least somewhat.
However, there remain concerns about compliance. The impression is that certain food stores either don’t adhere to the limits or simply stop selling many of those items.
The same newspaper carried a story from Curaçao, where a survey by “Fundashon pa Konsumido” showed significant price differences between mini- and supermarkets on the island also for essential products in a similar basket. They urged the relevant ministry’s inspection to look into this matter.
The current situation in St. Maarten is unclear, but any such regulation requires active monitoring and supervision. After all, without regular controls one can hardly speak of enforcement.