Halkitis on inflation: Relief options are limited

Following a government-authorized increase in the prices of some breadbasket items, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis yesterday assured the Bahamian public that the government is giving the issue of inflation serious attention, but noted that relief options are limited.

“It’s a vexing issue, Madam President, because nobody wants to see costs go up,” said Halkitis in the Senate.

“I am often asked, and I try to be as open and accessible as possible when I provide these answers. And the issue is imported inflation. We import so many things and we experience inflation.

“Today, new data is supposed to come out in the US showing that perhaps it has peaked, hopefully, and so, we can see this matter starting to moderate.

“But I don’t want the Bahamian public to be left with the impression that the government is unconcerned or the government is callous. We are limited in the tools in our toolbox to deal with it. We are exploring a number of things right now. And the public will hear some things very shortly.

“But, again, we have to be very measured in what we do.”

On Tuesday, a list of items on the breadbasket list, including cooking oil, corned beef, evaporated milk, flour and margarine, approved by the government for price increases was published.

However, Halkitis emphasized yesterday that the increases are for certain brands, in particular, not all brands of the items.

“When it is said that the government authorized an increase in the price of corned beef [for example], it is not every single brand of corned beef across the board,” he said. “It is a particular brand.”

The Bahamas, like much of the world, has been struggling with rising consumer prices since late last year.

In March, the Central Bank of The Bahamas said domestic consumer price inflation rose to 2.3 percent in the last quarter of 2021, compared to the 0.2 percent registered during the same period in 2020.

The International Monetary Fund has projected that consumer prices in The Bahamas will increase by 7.3 percent this year.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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