Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday warned businesses against price gouging in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Making an address on the economic effects of coronavirus on The Bahamas from the floor of the House of Assembly, Turnquest said the government is closely monitoring the retail sector.
He said retailers are also being encouraged to place limits on the number of items each customer can purchase to eliminate hoarding.
“The government has strongly cautioned businesses against inflating prices,” Turnquest said.
“We are closely monitoring the retail sector to mitigate the practice of price gouging. We are also encouraging wholesalers and retailers to consider limits on the amount of essential supplies that one customer can buy to help guard against the hoarding of goods and to ensure there is a stockpile of at least three months of essential items.”
Bahamians have begun to make a run on the stores because they are uncertain what restrictive protocols will come following the announcement of the nation’s first coronavirus case on Sunday.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis once again contended yesterday, as he addressed the House of Assembly, that The Bahamas has enough food supplies for up to three months.
Turnquest said The Bahamas’ supply chain has not been interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak and, therefore, goods will still be coming into the country.
“Persons are reasonably concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the supply of goods coming into the country, food in particular,” he said.
“We recognize the risks posed by major disruptions in the supply chain, as they can lead to critical shortages at a time when persons are already stressed. However, we must be mindful, because these risks can be exacerbated by panic buying and hoarding, which can fuel a perception that shortages exist.
“I would like to be very clear: as the prime minister advised the country yesterday (Tuesday), the government has been in touch with the major domestic importers and distributors of goods. We get relevant updates on their supply operations through the National Coordinating Committee for COVID-19 that reports to the Office of the Prime Minister. As of now, food importers and distributors advised that they have seen no major disruption in their supply chains and goods continue to come into the country uninterrupted. While new protocols have led to some delay in the shipment of goods, supply chains remain in good standing.”
Turnquest said there is no need for Bahamians to be concerned that there may be a shortage of goods in the country.