The government has completed consultation on a revised breadbasket and is expected to submit its final report to the minister of labor for review, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
However, Sands could not say when that report will go to Cabinet for discussion.
“I have, right here on my desk, the final report to be submitted now to the minister of labor and then on to Cabinet and I am really looking forward to revealing this to the public,” he told The Nassau Guardian in an interview on Thursday.
“But certainly the contents include healthy foods, which will obviously be (value-added tax) VAT free but also enjoy price control.”
Last year, the Ministry of Health released the National Breadbasket Review Forum Report and Recommendations, which proposed the removal of unhealthy items from the national breadbasket and replacing them with healthy alternatives.
The current breadbasket includes: butter, margarine, cooking oil, mayonnaise, mustard, corned beef, canned meats, canned soups, broths, evaporated milk, condensed milk, fresh milk, cheese, eggs, rice, flour, grits, baby cereal, baby formula, baby food and bread.
The report recommended the removal of margarine, mayonnaise, corned beef, canned meats, canned soups, broths and condensed milk.
It further advised that those items be replaced with beans and peas, raw almonds, raw cashews, fresh oranges, fresh apples, root crops (such as sweet potato, pumpkin, cassava etc.), oatmeal, tuna (in water), sardines (in water) and mackerel (in water).
Ministry of Health representatives travelled throughout The Bahamas conducting consultations regarding the proposed changes to the breadbasket.
Sands said the responses from those consultations were “overwhelmingly positive”.
“People have been engaged,” he said.
“They are looking forward to this change.
“Bear in mind the breadbasket has been with us now for 45 years. So this is the first substantial change in the breadbasket since its inception.
“…We wanted to be sure that such a change was done with the proper consultation. We are at the end of that road.”
The government has already moved toward changing the cap on wholesale and retail prices for several breadbasket items including butter, corned beef, margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil, flour and rice.
The Price Control (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019 were tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, and outlines the description, brand and price per allotted package size of several breadbasket items.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications