The decision by Parliament not to forward a report from the Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Committee on discussions with wholesalers and retailers in the local food industry to government as planned (see related story) makes sense. The gathering took place already a year ago and while the report had been submitted one month later, by now its content is obviously outdated also because the debate was centred around the coronavirus-related lockdown, curfew, and other restrictive measures at the time.
Instead calling a new committee meeting with the prime minister and TEATT minister to talk about food security is a timely initiative considering the upcoming start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. A follow-up encounter with the employers involved for an update as mentioned might be useful too.
Price-gouging is an often-heard allegation, but usually with little to no credible evidence of such. To the contrary, certainly bigger supermarkets seem to be engaged in active competition with their frequently advertised specials.
And – like it or not – that is how free market systems work best. Consumers keep suppliers of products and services honest simply by choosing between them.
When it comes to groceries, the latter requires awareness among shoppers, which is why government’s periodic price comparisons are helpful. As a social safety net, maximum prices were set long ago for a basket of basic goods, requiring the necessary enforcement and controls.
But otherwise, one depends on fair trade that can only be ensured with a level playing field. After all, it should not be the case that one business pays its rightful taxes and social premiums while having to compete against others that fail to do so.
So, a Financial Committee meeting to talk about fiscal compliance – and evasion – would indeed be a fitting part of efforts to keep the local cost of living down.