The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday threw its support behind retail grocers, pharmacies and tourism stakeholders that have recently spoken out against the new price control measures, the increase in the minimum wage on January 1, and substantial Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) rate hikes.
Chamber Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said these pressures are particularly challenging given that businesses are still dealing with the inflationary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is the BCCEC’s considered view that businesses ought to be able to benefit from the principles of free enterprise and as such, ought to be able to set profit margins commensurate with their cost to procure goods and services, in order to operate and meet monthly expenses. The BCCEC stands with the Retail Grocers Association, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association, and others in their efforts to work with the government in finding a suitable and workable path forward,” she said in a statement yesterday.
“These industry and trade associations have been vocal on issues impacting their members, many of whom are also members of the BCCEC. The BCCEC has long believed in, and continues to advocate for, meaningful and robust consultation between the government and the business community. Such consultation is an essential prerequisite to the smooth and equitable adoption of new policies, allowing businesses enough time for implementation, and facilitating easier consumer adaptation. Most of the BCCEC members, though not directly impacted by the recent announcement on price control measures, will be directly impacted by increases in the costs of labor and energy.”
In his national address on October 11, Prime Minister Philip Davis announced changes to the price control items list, including the reduction of the profit margin on price-controlled drugs and the addition of 38 categories of items to price control.
The deadline for implementation was initially set for October 17, but was pushed to November 1 to allow businesses – many of which lamented the short notice and lack of consultation – to get their systems ready.
“Significant policy shifts which impact businesses ought to be made after substantive consultation with the business community, with a particular emphasis on the industries and sectors most impacted. As always, the BCCEC stands willing and able to offer our support in the collective effort toward finding sustainable and comprehensive solutions that move our business community and country forward,” the Chamber continued.
The government is set to meet with retail and wholesale pharmaceutical companies today at the Office of the Prime Minister.