In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Finance has been inundated with complaints by a number of persons that, there have been some cases of unfair pricing at certain grocery establishments.
As a precautionary measure, as Premier and Minister of Finance, let me state the following:
I am aware some members of the community are concerned that prices of goods may have been unfairly pushed higher with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely to be the case that prices of goods may be naturally higher because of increased production and transport costs and also because of increased demand across the region. However, I wish to encourage all business owners to properly and fairly price goods.
As the Minister responsible for Trade, the Attorney General has advised me I have the power pursuant to Section 2 of the Distribution and Price of Goods Act to make an order to fix and declare the maximum price for which any goods may be sold by retail or wholesale.
It is my intention to do so within the next few days in accordance with my powers under the Law to make such regulations. As opposed to my approach in such circumstances after Hurricane Irma, I will immediately instruct the Attorney General to draft the necessary Order so that I can implement the maximum price on critical goods required to facilitate the proper guidelines for the management of the pandemic. These will include, but not restricted to items for sanitizing and disinfecting hands and surfaces as recommended by the Ministry of Health.
I will be sending a general circular to all retail outlets that provide such goods to the public, informing them of the serious penalties associated with any contravention of this Act. For the information of all concerned, such penalties could include fines of up to $25,000 or to imprisonment to 2 years or to both.
The public is invited to call the Ministry of Finance at 264 497 2451 or the Royal Anguilla Police Force at 264 497 2333 to report any abuses that you may have seen or experienced.
The Ministry of Finance will shortly put in place the required monitoring and investigatory capacity to ensure that there are no incidences of price gouging during this very challenging time.