Organized Response To High Prices Needed
Published on: 7/17/07.
- IS ANYONE INTERESTED in the welfare of the lower-income workers in Barbados, or have we become a society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?
- Every day in Barbados one can hear of some increase in goods and services – from food to telephone, flour to gas. What is really happening in Barbados?
- Does anyone realize that a chicken in some supermarkets is at least $20 and that some families of five or more cannot afford to eat a chicken until on Sunday?
- How a single is mother to food, clothe and school her children and still get herself to work every day of the week?
- Who are we to complain to? Who is looking after our interest?
We do not have the money or the power to fight a battle, but the cost of living in Barbados is killing our society little by little. Yes, I know we have to try to survive but it is becoming increasingly difficult month after month for some of us. I do not want to hear that we are living above our means, because that is rubbish at this point. The money we take to the supermarket can only purchase the staples; there is no room for luxury foods.
What is the present Government doing to help us, and what will the Opposition be able to do if elected? I personally want to hear from both sides how they will solve this inflation.
One thing for sure that we can see is that our wages and salaries are not moving, or if they move it is by very little. Are we keeping too quiet? We need to form a strategic alliance and say what is happening to us, speak out about our concerns before our predominantly black societies become extinct.
Come on, Barbados, we are becoming a place that is very expensive to live and survive. I need to hear more comments.
Source: Nation Newspaper
The issue of the high cost of living has been an abused discussion in Barbados. We say abused because the stakeholders in Barbados, both governmental and non-governmental, have not addressed it with any clarity of purpose. As general elections approach, our Prime Minister has been singing the praises of his government’s achievements. He has been preaching of the low unemployment which is tagged to a booming construction sector; the experience of an incumbent government that the public should feel safe as it sails into the turbulence waters of a world economy. All the macro indicators certainly look satisfactory. BU remain concern about the sluggish approach by a Barbados Labour Party government after 14 years, to strategically reposition the Barbados economy to generate the foreign exchange required to pay for the high life style to which Barbadians have become accustomed and of which we boast to all and sundry. The perception of our West Indian brothers and sisters over the years has been blinkered with envy at our fortune. The continual dissecting of our prime real estate, to be sold to foreigners, is a plan mired in stupidity by the men in our government who have been educated at the highest levels.
The letter quoted above which was sandwiched in the Nation newspaper on July 17, 2007, struck an emotional chord with the BU household. Naturally, we empathize and join with the writer in lamenting the absence of a plan to mobilize resources/agencies in the country to address the runaway prices currently prevailing at our retail outlets, especially our supermarkets. Unlike the “fat cats” in our government who can afford to shop at the prestigious BS&T supermarkets, the plight of the working poor continue to create tension in our society. Obviously, they are the defenders of the status quo who will point to citizens who live in government housing, owning cable TV and enjoying a lifestyle that belies their stations in life. We say to those people that we would be scratching the surface of the problem if we accept those red herring arguments.
Today in the news, we heard spokespersons from several bakeries crying out at a recent 12% increase in flour, which will obviously affect the retail price of bread, a staple food in the food basket of the poor and working class groups. The plight of our working poor must be held-up against the gush in government spending that is currently underway. Only today we heard Minister Barney Lynch announcing to the nation that four air bridges will be installed at the remodeled Grantley Adams Airport at a cost of twenty one million dollars. No doubt as general elections draw closer, we will see another level of spending which is geared to return the incumbent, and to hell with the stress on the current account of the country. Our government that has boasted of their prudent management to date will be quite prepared to depart from its careful strategy. BU surmises that the government, as a recourse, can always“print more money” even if it exceeds the limit established outlines in the Financial Rules of the country; who cares with a toothless Auditor General and an ineffective Public Accounts Committee in position.
12% price hike in flour
Faced with massive cost of living expenses, Barbadians will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay anticipated increases in bread prices. Operators of bakeries tell STARCOM NETWORK NEWS, the 12 percent price hike in flour to bakeries from today, will significantly impact their operations and customers. One Baker said Bajans are going to “holler for murder.”
Individualisation of companies losing to mergers
Should we remind readers of the recent levy that will see the reconditioned car preferred by the working class being pushed out of reach? What about the skyrocketing real estate prices? We have already mentioned the food prices in our supermarkets; even the efficient pricing of fast food can play an important part in the Barbados society, which has become all about convenience given our hectic lifestyles. Let us not forget the utility companies that continue to rake in the dollars while not offering competitive products, when compared to our neighboring islands. How can our communications costs continue to be so high in a world that is driving itself on the effective use of cheap communication technology? Let us not forget the Barbados Light & Power Company, which continues to depend on petro-based fuel to create electricity in Barbados. Should they not have seen their role as partnering with government and private sector to provide cheaper sources of energy? The economics of price in Barbados cannot be fundamentally changed for the betterment, as long as these utility companies continue to play a passive role in the countries development.
The lack of attention to our run away cost of living has become so out of control that we are not sure if the government knows how to fix the problem. We are hopeful that as a society we can come together to encourage debate on what is a bread and butter issue. How long can we continue to build an economy which rake in unprecedented and indiscriminate collection of VAT monies? After several years of operating our government find it difficult to adjust the rate of VAT on staple goods in which poor people require to live. What about the effort which Minister Lynette Eastmond and her ministry sought to engage which highlighted pricing anomalies among several supermarkets in Barbados? Should BU assume that a lack of follow-up resulted from a “shaky” approach, pressure brought to bear by the “big-ups”, or are we being too harsh because the follow-up maybe in slow progress?
We have to feed our babies.
We have to feed our old people.
We have to feed our families.
The biggest disappointment on this matter is directed at our government in waiting, the Democratic Labour Party. This issue should be whipped to a frenzy because high food price is an issue that will always get people’s attention. It speaks to survival and despite what is being said by our Prime Minister, the cost of living in Barbados is high.
BU answers the questions posed by Dellemar Taylor by saying the leadership of Barbados is now concerned with preparing Barbados for CSME. Issues of a domestic nature have been relegated. Ministers like Lynette Eastmond et al appear out of touch with the people on the ground. When a government begins to lose that connection the vacuum is filled with malcontent. One quality which I have always admired about Arthur over the years has been his solid connection with the people. In recent times it appears to BU that he has become so enamored with creating a legacy of Caribbean Statesman that matters on the domestic front have been left to simmer.
Let us hope that for the country’s sake, he is able to arrest the high prices which Barbadians continue to suffer in silence.