During his parliamentary Budget speech last Friday, Finance Minister Chris Saunders outlined that the government was removing duty on day-to-day essential items, such as baby food, baby diapers, female and adult sanitary products. However, as a precaution to ensure that these savings were being passed through to the consumer, government had to go a step further and intended to bring out a consumer protection bill.
“Time and time again, we are seeing so many items on which there is no Customs Duty being the most expensive on the shelves,” he said. “Just recently, we noticed that with the lateral flow test kits, where the government made the decision to make the kits duty free, and some of the prices that are being charged are borderline immoral.”
Minister Saunders also called out price gouging on building supplies, such as cement.
“We also recently expanded the number of international markets for cement, which is vital for our construction industry, that may be sourced at lower prices. And again, in many instances the savings were not passed on to consumers,” Minister Saunders worried.
As a result, government was going to have to enact legislation to ensure compliance.
“I want to put everyone on notice, that if savings are not being passed on to consumers, this government will take the necessary steps to ensure that they will be, even if we have to partner with others or import the items ourselves. It is that important to us,” he stated.
Minister Saunders went on to say that too much money was being taken out of the pockets of people and they were not receiving value for their hard work.
“It cannot be business as usual, where many people are taken advantage of with some of the prices being charged on essential items,” he said.