Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 15th 2016 Contents A23
Monday, February 15, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
THE FOLLOWING STOCK
CERTIfiCATE(S) HAVE BEEN
National Flour Mills Limited
8900047848-0 for 576
576 and 500 shares.
Two Tuesdays ago a trip to Massy Stores was
disheartening; the grocery bill had noticeably
The cleaning lady brought her lunch to work
but her customary menu was minus chicken---
vegetables and rice.
She commented that Tru Valu had raised the
price of even "de ole" chicken, which "wasn t
good anyway because it imported and full ah
A retired friend remarked, "Ah really notice de
prices went up but I cyah really tell yuh by how
much. I doh remember de new prices much less
de ole, and I doh keep meh bills."
In Massy Stores, Maraval, Nestle Svelty Milk
had gone from plus or minus $11.50 to $13.49.
On the calculator, the increase is 17.3 per cent.
Pinehill juice was now retailing at $14.61, up
from $12.99, which is an increase of the stipu-
lated 12.5 per cent by law.
Lipton tea, the mainstay of a Trini breakfast,
had risen from plus or minus $30 to $34.86,
representing an increase of 16.2 per cent.
Post Cranberry Almond Crunch cereal was
now retailing at $35.43 up from just over $31,
representing a 14.3 per cent increase. Brunswick
Red Salmon had increased from $31.50 to $35.99,
or 14.3 per cent.
I could go on crunching the numbers, but is
my pre-February data wrong (sometimes my
memory plays tricks) or are the businessmen
having a field day at the consumers expense?
All my percentages should equal 12.5 per cent.
I wonder if Minister Colm Imbert would visit
Massy Stores in Maraval tomorrow to double-
check the prices. With buying milk alone for two
people for the month, my food bill has increased
by almost $20.
Add in the rest and we have shot way past his
He was there a couple Sundays ago looking
very tired and I asked myself if he was gauging
crowd reaction or making notes of zero-rated
So how can an ordinary consumer know if he
or she is being exploited?
Should supermarkets have been obligated to
publish the old and new prices on zero-rated
goods and have these publicly displayed for the
sake of transparency?
I m not advocating for any more commissions
of enquiry or committees to be established. We
certainly have enough of those. However, instead
of sending store cardholders emails about prod-
ucts they will never buy, emails could have been
sent on price changes for the products that cus-
tomers do buy, based on their purchase profile.
I guess we don t have that kind of software
analytics as yet in Trinidad. What I need I sup-
pose is an accessible bureau of consumer protec-
tion to address my concerns and bring any per-
petrators in line. This may be more feasible.
I tried downloading the forms, "How To Make
A Complaint" and "Online Consumer Complaint
Form" for the Consumer Affairs Division on the
ttconnect website but the pages could not be
found. I guess that there is always the option of
visiting the office on Duncan Street with my
grocery bills and an official list of previously
However, that would require taking time off
from work as their office hours are 8 am to 4
pm and they too may not have access to original
food prices for Massy Stores in the last three
months. Ah well, at least we have no food short-
ages like in neighbouring Venezuela, and Mr
Imbert clearly appreciates that food is an emo-
tive issue between a Trini and his government.
ARE BUSINESSMEN HAVING A FIELD
DAY AT CONSUMERS' EXPENSE?
An Afghan vendor
displays fish for
sale along the
highway in Sorubi
district of Kabul,
1. AP PHOTO
FISH FOR SALE
If one had the time or inclination to
write letters commenting on some cur-
rent issue, there will be no shortage of is-
sues. One issue could be the call for
"war" by some in the labour movement
due to a perceived lack respect shown to
the movement in the appointment of di-
rectors to a state institution. Another
could be the expressed unease stated by
many over the process outlined by the
Government in the way forward to
choose a Commissioner of Police and
The issue which I want to address is
the appointment of a new minister in the
Ministry of National Security and uproar
in the media by politicians and others be-
moaning the fact that the Prime Minister
did not give the population reasons for
such a move.
Unless I have missed something over
the past years, I am not aware of any
Prime Minister being called upon, so stri-
dently, to give reasons for appointing
anyone to the Ministry of National Secu-
rity. As a matter of fact, it is reported
that someone even ventured the opinion
that he knew the appointee in school and
that the individual was a quiet person.
What is the relevance?
It is quite disconcerting that in these
times, where it is expected that the days
ahead will be difficult, those who should
be leading the discussions as to how
best we can weather the pending storm,
prefer to expend their time on issues
which are so unproductive. As a former
US President once said, "It is the econ-
omy, stupid." As we continue to spend
our time flailing around on rather unpro-
ductive issues, it may be instructive to
see what others are doing to deal with
their economic situation. An interna-
tional newspaper reported that the
Saudi government has banned official
purchases of cars and furniture and
slashed travel budgets and infrastruc-
ture spending as it faces a grave fiscal
crisis because of low oil prices. Saudi
Arabia pumps about 10 million barrels of
oil per day while Trinidad pumps less
than 100,000 barrels. The country has
foreign reserves in excess of $700 Bn
(US) while T&T has less than $11 Bn
(US). While the country may have
greater commitments compared with
T&T, its resources far exceed those of
T&T. So while a country like Saudi Arabia
is taking steps to deal with the likely ef-
fect on its economy due to falling oil
prices, we here seem to be fixated on the
fact that the Prime Minister did not ad-
vise the population on his decision to ap-
point someone as a Minister in the
Ministry of National Security.
Again, "it's the economy, stupid."
Battery Street, Buccoo, Tobago
One more time---it's the economy, stupid
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